Synopsis by Mark Deming
Denzel Washington stars in this adaptation of the novel by African-American crime author Walter Mosley, the first of his stories to reach the screen. Ezekiel Rawlins (Washington), known to his friends as "Easy," has just lost his job at an aircraft plant in post-WW II Los Angeles, a time when good-paying jobs for black men are hard to come by. He's wondering how to make his mortgage payment when he's approached by De Witt Albright (Tom Sizemore), who describes his job as "doing favors for friends." It seems that a woman named Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals) has gone missing; Daphne is the former girlfriend of wealthy mayoral candidate Todd Carter (Terry Kinney) and a known habitué of the black jazz clubs and night spots on L.A.'s Central Avenue. Albright offers Easy $100 to help him find Daphne, and while he doesn't have any detective experience, the price is right, so Easy agrees. After a passionate affair with a friend of Daphne's, Coretta James (Lisa Nicole Carson), leads to that woman's murder, Easy enlists the help of his friend Mouse (Don Cheadle), who seems to know just a bit too well how to use a gun, which gives Easy all too clear a look at the lower depths of L.A.'s upper crust.
private-detective, Black [race], femme-fatale, missing-person, murder, organized-crime, police-corruption, political-corruption, prejudice, racial-tension