Written and directed by Jim Kouf, this was the last film starring Tupac that was completed before Tupac was killed, and released afterward. This was his first real “grown-up” role, in my opinion. He pays Jake Rodriquez, a police detective who, along with his partner Frank Divinci (played by Jim Belushi) is corrupt and engages in stealing and drug-dealing. Jake does this because he’s heavily in debt to a bookie, while Frank just seems to be greedy.
One night they kill a drug dealer (played by hip-hop legend Kool Moe Dee) that they ripped off during a fake drug deal. They figured it will just be looked at as another random gang-related street crime, but a couple of days later it is revealed that the drug dealer was actually an undercover DEA agent, and now the DEA wants to get involved to find the killer. Jake and Frank panic, and try to find some random criminal that they can frame for the murder, to close the case before the DEA takes it over. After unsuccessfully trying to find a suitable ex-con to frame, Frank gets the idea to pin the murder on a homeless drug addict (played by Dennis Quaid). So they plant the gun on him and arrest him, and get him to sign a false confession, which the homeless guy goes along with because his brain is so fried he can’t even remember if he actually did it or not. Frank also gets his mistress, a stripper named Cynthia (Lela Rochon) to sign a statement claiming that she’s a witness who has seen the homeless guy in that area with a gun. It all seems like a perfect set-up, case closed
But then James Earl Jones shows up, playing a lawyer hired by an extremely wealthy family, to defend the homeless guy. It turns out that the homeless guy is really the long-lost heir to that wealthy family, who became an alcoholic and drug addict and disappeared years early after his wife was killed. So now this family is putting all of their resources into defending him, including poking holes in Cynthia’s witness statement. Frank and Jake begin to panic all over again, realizing that their perfect set-up could fall apart, and put them in jeopardy. As the case falls apart, and the pressure builds, the two detectives begin turning on each other. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s pretty good.
Tupac is really good in this role, playing a character far removed from his thug life persona. Likewise, Belushi is good, as is Dennis Quaid. It’s funny when I first saw the movie, I didn’t know Quaid was in it, I guess I missed his name when it flashed in the credits, so when he first showed up as the homeless guy, with long hair and full beard, I didn’t recognize him at all. It wasn’t until later when they had him cleaned up and shaved that I recognized him, it was quite a surprise. This is a very satisfying crime drama, that I recommend to all Tupac fans.
TWO THUMBS UP!
This film can be purchased on DVD via Amazon.com