Sean (Andy Garcia) is a new and upcoming lawyer working for the District Attorney in the city of Manhattan. Sean’s life takes a significant turn when his father (who is a police officer) is gunned down and badly wounded during a stake-out. Given the family connection, Sean is appointed to lead the case. This will allow him to try and prosecute the murderer of three police officers and the same man who attempted to kill his father in cold blood.
While Sean is on the case and fighting in the courtroom trying to put a murderer behind bars, he soon suspects a new scandal which is more significant than what he could have ever imagined. Sean begins to suspect this scandal may involve many Manhattan Police officers and even beyond into other districts. More worrying than this, Sean has major fears that his very own father, who was recently wounded and shot multiple times, may also be somehow connected with this new discovery.
Sean has now been put in a complicated situation and will be forced to make some tough and life-changing decisions. What started as a quick and easy court case with a guilty murderer has now turned into something where Sean may go down the path of revealing crimes committed by police officers who have served many years, daily risking their lives.
Will Sean do what’s right by the law, find out the truth and bring justice?
Performances in Night Falls on Manhattan are genuinely unique. Andy Garcia is quite likeable as Sean. Supporting roles, played by Richard Dreyfuss and the late James Gandolfini, were also excellent and robust. Ian Holm, who plays Sean’s father, was also rather impressive and I was once again amazed by the actor’s work.
As a plot, it almost felt like two sets of mysteries fitted into the one film. Sean is dealing with a murderer in the courtroom and then making a more significant discovery, possibly involving the whole police force. The pacing of this film is quite pleasing, but more importantly, the film reveals were never predictable to me, and the film’s final act felt rather satisfying even though it feels like not all characters tie up their loose ends.
Thanks to Imprint Films in Australia, this film has been released on Blu-ray for the first time. The visuals, along with the film’s 5.1 Surround track were extremely pleasing. I also enjoyed the film’s jazzy soundtrack.
The only negatives I have are more related to minor story elements which do not feel adequately developed. One example of this is when Sean sees an old female friend of his, and the two start a relationship. It feels far too rushed and somewhat crammed into what is already an extensive story. Consequently, it feels as though this subplot was only used to create more drama in Sean’s current world. Sean himself is also given very little to no back story, but thankfully, the character is still quite likeable. The filmmaker took quite a risk to introduce him the way they do.
Overall, I found this film to be rather satisfying. Performances by Andy Garcia, Ian Holm, Richard Dreyfuss, and the late James Gandolfini were all truly excellent. The plot itself was also unpredictable, and I found myself enjoying the story of this film as it combined crime, drama, and thriller. Thanks to Imprint Films in Australia, I’m personally delighted and proud to own this film within my collection.
Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) is Now Available on Blu-ray!
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Review Written by Peter Walkden