Sean Casey (Andy Garcia) is an idealistic street cop turned Manhattan District Attorney who is thrust into the limelight after prosecuting a high profile, headline making case. As he moves deeper into the criminal justice system Casey’s world is torn apart as he experiences personal and professional betrayal after discovering a crime and cover-up among those closest to him. Through the political deals and compromises that come with his new job, Casey learns that his ideals are unrealistic in a political system that forces him to decide between loyalty and morality. He has to try and work out a way to keep his ideals without failing his profession or his career.
 

4
An intriguing film that succeeds in combining themes of politics, power and corruption.

Over the years, in a sometimes frustratingly uneven career, director Sidney Lumet has usually delivered his best work when dealing with the flaws and corruption within the legal system in New York - think of Serpico, Prince Of The City, The Verdict and Q and A. Night Falls On Manhattan is firmly in this tradition.

Andy Garcia plays Sean Casey, a new recruit to the city`s DA office, but no stranger to the law - his Irish American father, Liam - Ian Holm - has been a cop all his life. Liam nearly loses his life when known drug dealer Jordan Washington - Shiek Mahmud-Bey - blasts his way out of his apartment, killing two other cops. Seeing a way to get himself re-elected, the city`s volatile DA, Morgenstern - Ron Leibman - assigns the inexperienced Sean to lead the prosecution of Washington, but during the trial the defence council, Vigoda - Richard Dreyfuss - alludes to widespread police corruption, placing Sean in an awkward moral dilemma.

Based on Tainted Evidence, a book by Robert Dailey, Night Falls On Manhattan is a sober, intelligent mainstream American film, and such things are an endangered species. Lumet focuses on the dilemma faced by his idealistic hero in a world which is nowhere near as black and white as it was when Henry Fonda stood up for justice in 12 Angry Men, Lumet`s first feature. With drug dealers and police seemingly inextricably bound together through corruption and bribery, where is justice? These questions are always worth exploring, especially in such an intelligent and well-acted screenplay. Less successful is the integration of Lena Olin in the rather contrived role of Sean`s mistress who happens to work for the opposing counsel - she seems to belong to another, lesser, film.