Several elements of an undercover drug bust operation go awry. First, the
police cover is broken and a the bloody shoot-out results in the death of an
unarmed woman, which prompts the police to plant a weapon on her and create a
cover story. Second, the most important drug dealer escapes. Third, a large haul of heroin is
discovered by the cops, but it does not all find its way to the police
The officers involved in the bust
are soon isolated and murdered one by one. It appears that the escaped baddie
is using his gang to get revenge for the bust and the drug rip-off. Finally
the cops start turning on one another, each thinking another has taken the
stash. The survival of the clean cops seems to hinge entirely on whether they
can figure out just who is really dirty, a process which becomes even more
complicated when IA and the Feds get involved. Several unexpected plot twists
lead to a bloody conclusion in which the final secrets are revealed.
Vice is an independent film produced by actors
Daryl Hannah, Matthew Robert Kelly and Michael Madsen, starring ... guess who?
... Daryl Hannah, Matthew Robert Kelly and Michael Madsen. They lined up some
respectable talent to support the script by writer/director Raul Inglis, most
notably the cinematographer Andrzej Sekula, whose previous projects have included Pulp
Fiction and American Psycho.
The atmosphere is fraught with tension, fueled by paranoia and some
substance abuse, so that the tempers of armed people often flare out of control.
The cops who are not killed by the avenging baddies are
killed by their fellow team members, sometimes in cold blood, sometimes in
shoot-outs. The writing and direction are efficient enough that the most
important secrets are revealed at the proper times while the action is fueled
by a driving score. Some particularly loud and frenetic background noises,
which raise the ante on the dramatic tension in several scenes.
There's nothing really new here, but this unrelentingly grim film is
competently assembled and held my attention to the end as I tried to guess
everyone's secrets. Vice is certainly not for everyone because there are
absolutely no light moments, and there's no wit. When not trying to solve the
mystery, often by using abusive and illegal tactics on suspects, the cops are
constantly on each other's backs. Even the brief glimpses into their personal
lives reveal darkness and sadness. Tempers are so close to the edge that
somebody occasionally gets mad at someone else and just blows them away. And
I'm talking about the good guys!
The film got no takers for theatrical distribution, except for a token
release in a few theaters in May of 2008, thus making it one of the strongest
offerings to come along in the straight-to-DVD category. If ultra-grim cop
mysteries are your thing, you could do a lot worse.