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Rental Unit: Dirty


The first half-hour or so of "Dirty" is used to set up this very familiar conflict, and it does so in a very familiar milieu of police corruption: the L.A.P.D. That's not so tough. That "Dirty" was inspired by the true events of the Rampart corruption scandals of the late 1990s would appear to lend it even more mean-street cred.

But then "Dirty," directed by Chris Fisher, tries to be too much, picking up any stray drama ingredient found loitering on the curb. First it is a mystery, then a gritty cop story, then a high-octane action thriller; all the while it tries to maintain a big treatise on the nature of honor and morality. Sancho and Officer Salim Adel (Cuba Gooding Jr.) are suspected as rats by their bosses, who set them up at the first opportunity to stop them from testifying before the internal affairs division. Caribbean-sounding drug smugglers are brought in, along with enough pesky informants, evil cops, Mexican gang lords and hard-breathing, angry lieutenants to outfit half a season of "NYPD Blue."

It's too bad "Dirty" didn't stick to a simple investigation of American law enforcement, or an even simpler character study. It contains a few good moments that could have carried a less affected film, and almost all of them involve Adel. He does his share of bad things, but as a character he is much deeper than the simple psychotic heavy Denzel Washington played in "Training Day." Here is the mix of selfishness, petulance and machismo that gives the alternately pitiable and detestable Adel multiple forms of pleasure frisking a terrified wealthy white woman in her overpriced luxury SUV. "Dirty" should have been his story alone. S

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