User Reviews (49)

Add a Review

  • Whats not to like about this movie? Well, the violent and the dark, at times manic context which prevails in a good share of the scenes, together with the perversity thats being thrown at you in the most unsubtle way. Nick Nolte's Brennan must be the most foul,intimidating and maniacal cop figure ever portrayed since Orson Welles' Captain Quinlan in "Touch of evil". He pulls off a great performance, although not very pleasant to watch (nor listen, for that matter).

    Whats there to like about this movie? For one thing, there is Armand Assante and what most likely is the role of his career, even if its a supporting one and he gets only a couple scene stealers. He demonstrates how great he can be if given the right part. And his role is very interesting, an archcriminal with feelings, brought out by a woman who may not even love him.

    Jenny Lumet was also good in her role, although I missed more interaction between her and Assante's character. Timothy Hutton, although overshadowed by Nolte and Assante in turns (inevitable really), proves again that he is a solid actor.His performance is not spectacular(as the role doesn't allow it), but its worthwhile. Another great presence by Patrick O'Neal as the sly and cunning district attorney with a criminal past and ties to Bobby Texador(Assante).

    Sidney Lumet is the master of socio-political drama/comedy/thriller. Here he mixes all three into an enjoyable, intriguing and satisfactory work. This film deserves more attention than I believe it got. But again, looking at its "walk on the wild side" perspective, it really couldn't have become a blockbuster hit an average person chooses to watch on video or DVD on a Saturday night.
  • Many reviews here have trashed Jenny Lumet's acting in this film and I want to go on record saying that I thought she gave an above average performance. I know, she's the director's daughter, but I think she more than holds her own opposite the likes of Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante (she doesn't have any scenes with Nolte).

    Lumet plays a girlfriend from Reilly's (Hutton) past. Reilly dated her when he was a beat cop and has since risen to Assistant DA. When the film begins it has been 6 years since their break-up and she strolls into a tense interview session on the arm of notorious drug czar Bobby Texador (Armand Assante). Obviously shaken by her involvement in the case, Reilly attempts to talk with her about their past. I think Lumet is quite convincing in her scenes with Hutton: wrenched emotionally as she kicks him out of her mother's apartment and touching as she discusses their failed relationship. She's no Meryl Streep, but she effectively conveys the anguish of a young woman forced to re-visit her painful past.

    Nolte is incredibly powerful as rogue cop Mike Brennan, a brooding, unstoppable evil force unlike any other character Nolte has played. His Mike Brennan is a distant cousin to Denzel Washington's Oscar-winning performance in "Training Day". Assante is nearly perfect as the menacing-yet-philosophical drug lord Bobby Texador. One of my favorite aspects of this script is the multi-faceted nature of Assante's character. Audiences aren't usually asked to identify with drug dealers, but Lumet's script and Assante's performance make Texador into more than just a one note crook. Both he and Nolte were Oscar-worthy, yet neither was even nominated (Jeremy Irons and Joe Pesci took home the male acting Oscars in 1990).

    My only criticism of the film is the way racial and ethnic stereotypes are forced into almost every scene: the hard-drinking Irish cop, the Italian mobsters, the shyster Jewish lawyer, the street-brawling Puerto Rican gang members. Maybe Lumet had a point to make by concentrating so obsessively on his characters' ethnic origins, but it seems like over-kill. Despite this flaw, Q&A is still an absorbing and powerful film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Q&A" is ostensibly about an investigation into an incident during which a small time drug dealer was shot and killed outside a nightclub by a street cop. In fact though, the movie's about something far more profound as it portrays New York City and its justice system as being inherently racist on every level and also asserts that the type of justice dispensed is determined predominantly by the ethnicity (and corrupt interests) of the people involved on both sides of the line.

    Homicide Bureau Chief Kevin Quinn (Patrick O'Neal) appoints Assistant D.A. Al Reilly (Timothy Hutton) to head up an investigation into the shooting of a Puerto Rican by NYPD detective Lieutenant Mike Brennan (Nick Nolte). Quinn makes it clear that Reilly only needs to collect some witness statements and then present them to the Grand Jury because, in his opinion, the case is so straightforward that it doesn't merit any greater attention especially as he regards Brennan as an excellent cop who gets results. Things get complicated and dangerous, however, when Reilly and his fellow investigators start to unearth evidence of corruption and suspect that Brennan may not be blameless for what happened.

    Reilly is young, inexperienced and eager to do well in his career but nevertheless (despite the steer he was given by Quinn) feels duty bound to pursue his inquiries thoroughly to discover what actually happened on the night of the shooting. It's soon revealed that the drug dealer was working for a major operator called Bobby Trexador (Armand Assante) who has Mafia connections and Reilly is surprised to find that the girl who was the love of his life is now involved in a relationship with Texador.

    Reilly meets Nancy Bosch (Jenny Lumet) on her own and wants to get back with her but it emerges that they had separated after Nancy had seen the expression on Reilly's face when he discovered that her father was black and despite every explanation he'd given her since, Nancy had been haunted by the experience and couldn't consider a reconciliation under any circumstance.

    The investigation doesn't go in the way that Quinn had ordered but also ends unsatisfactorily from Reilly's point of view. The experience brings the young investigator into contact with a whole range of people from a variety of different ethnic groups and also culminates in him becoming considerably less naive than he was at the start of the process.

    Nick Nolte's portrayal of Brennan (who is corrupt, bigoted and extremely threatening) is incredibly powerful as he looks physically imposing and capable of extreme brutality. Brennan is coarse and very dangerous because he operates by his own rules and is especially adept at covering up his wrongdoings. In situations where his superiors become suspicious of his methods, they quickly decide not to take any action because in a city where the threat of crime getting out of control is always present, his methods at least provide good results.

    Patrick O'Neal is perfect as the autocratic, smooth and calculating Quinn who doesn't intend to let principles or regulations get in the way of his political ambitions and Assante is impressive as Trexador who's a very non-stereotypical crime boss. Timothy Hutton also does well in conveying the idealism and gullibility of a young man who like Quinn and Brennan is an Irish American.

    "Q&A" is extremely thought provoking as it provides an uncompromising depiction of a situation in which any efforts to control crime and corruption (especially by orthodox methods) are inevitably hampered by the deleterious effects of rampant racism. This problem is portrayed as being intractable with no potential solutions being readily available.
  • Guess the film from the following description of its characters. A young man investigating misdeeds in the police force, motivated by the memory of his father (a legendary policeman) but also by the pain of having lost the affections of a woman he loves to another player in the drama. A renegade cop, rampaging violently through the city, but revered on the force for standing up to the scum on the streets. And the renegade's boss, who protects him, partly because he himself is on old-school Irish policeman; but partly because he appreciates having his own private bag-man, especially in his dealings with organised crime. Throw in some prostitutes for a little background colour, and it sounds like a perfect description of 'L.A. Confidential'. But it also describes this tough and underrated movie made by Sidney Lumet some years before Curtis Hanson's film.

    Whereas Hanson's film was stylised, and glamorised violence (provided the cause was just), Lumet has gone for a more realist approach, and his bad cop (played mesmerisingly by Nick Nolte) is completely rotten, in fact resembling Harvey Kietel's 'Bad Liutennant' in Abel Fererra's movie. The film is dated by its ghastly electronic soundtrack, and more interestingly by its portrait of New York at a time when the city was at its lowest ebb. But it's a very well assembled thriller, exploring issues of race, mixed loyalties and the meaning of good policing without flinching from a grim picture of life on the margins of law abiding society. Lumet has had a long career, but this is one of his better films, and ultimately more truthful than Hanson's stylish charade. Each are good, in their own way: why is only one so appreciated?
  • Exellent police thriller, about corrupt cop Nolte, who finally meets someone, Hutton, who's determined to bring him to justice! Film is good all the way, with Assante in good supporting role. Why this actor hasn't had greater sucses, is a mystery to me. Calderon is also good as transvestite! But Nolte, is absolutely brilliant as the arrogant, super corrupt Mike Brennan! Is one of my favourite police thrillers from the 90'ies. The only downpoint is the silly song used for the end credits, "don't betray the ones you love", of course you don't!

    Peter Piessens
  • namashi_112 March 2012
    Based on a novel by New York judge Edwin Torres', 'Q & A' is A Great Film, that ranks amongst Sidney Lumet's Best Films. The Late Legendary Filmmaker handles this gritty, violent & disturbing film, with top-notch creativity. Also, the performances, are fabulous!

    'Q & A' Synopsis: A young district attorney seeking to prove a case against a corrupt police detective, encounters a former lover and her new protector, a crime boss who refuse to help him.

    'Q & A' is gritty, violent, disturbing & yet captivating. The Drama unfolds with flourish & holds your attention efficiently. Sidney Lumet's Direction is Top-Notch. His handling of this difficult film, truly deserves distinction marks. It's amongst his best works as a storyteller!

    Performance-Wise: Nick Nolte stands out. The Legendary Actor delivers a fantastic performance as the filthy mouthed, corrupted cop. Timothy Hutton is first-rate. Armand Assante is terrific. He too plays a bad-guy & he's menacing as well. Patrick O'Neal is superb. Jenny Lumet leaves a mark.

    On the whole, 'Q & A' is a must see film.
  • I liked this film, a lot. It had some uneven moments in it, mostly Sidney Lumet's daughter's attempt at acting. However, Nolte and Assante are GREAT! This is gritty and realistic movie making. One sympathizes with the somewhat idealistic assistant district attorney (Timothy Hutton) as he tries to do the right thing, with so many thing in his way. The language of the movie is raw, with many memorable quotes. However, after viewing the movie you will find yourself remembering the roles of Nolte (Frank Brennan) and Armand Assante (Bobby Texador). Nolte is a cross between John Wayne and Ted Bundy. He is the first cop through the door and the first to pull out his weapon. He gets the job done, but he also breaks the law whenever he sees fit. Hutton, like many, admire Nolte, but the more they find out about the guy, the more they see that he might be the real threat to society. Bobby Tex is the very charismatic drug dealer that honestly wants to get out of the business alive. It is rare that the character that you root for the most is a drug dealer, but this movie maybe the one exception. He is better than the murdering cop. Hutton plays the straight guy in between these two forces of nature. Hutton has personal demons and real demons standing in way of doing the right thing. Good, solid story that you will enjoy. No Hollywood ending here. This movie is RAW!
  • The last and least of Sidney Lumet's three stories of (more or less) innocents trying to uncover police corruption and blow the whistle on the guilty, and the only fictional story. There's nothing wrong with the acting of the principals. Nolte is brutish and tall in an over-the-top performance. (He always looks larger on screen than in person.) His New York accent, however, is clearly superimposed on an unregional Omaha set of phonemes. Jenny Lumet looks splendid but has the same problem with her accent, and her scenes are too long as part of a mixed-up romantic subplot that doesn't hold together well. Timothy Hutton has less of a notable problem with his speech, and he is really quite good as the innocent-looking but by no means weak investigating attorney. He even looks pretty Irish. O'Neal is the smoothly villainous and murderous head of the investigation, and a very good villain he is, as usual. Guzman and Dutton provide excellent supporting roles. And Armand Assante seems built for the part of the iron-eating PR drug dealer who has made the decision, a thoroughly rational one, to get out and live in the Caribbean sunshine. His body movements provide a language unto themselves, his smallest gestures are magnetic. They draw so much attention to themselves that they are almost the self-parody that they were in his hilarious spoof of detective movies. He's an exceptional actor.

    The movie's plot, however, leaves a good deal to be desired. Its fictional skeleton shows through. You've never seen so much ethnicity on the screen before, and it's misplaced. It's easy enough to believe that racial insults are offhandedly traded among in-group members but difficult to believe that every conversational exchange, no matter how casual or intense, must include one. And at the very time when some of these barriers are beginning to weaken, judging from the rising rates of intermarriage. Serpico's story was relatively simple. Prince of the City far more complex and realistically tragic. This one is simply hard to follow as well as hard to believe. Boats turn into fireballs in unlikely ways, as they do in quickie action movies. Characters fly back and forth from San Juan to New York and some are killed and it's difficult to keep track of what's what and who's who. It isn't that Lumet has lost his touch.

    When a character is shot in the neck, man does he bleed out. But the director is working with less compelling material here and in any case this kind of narrative is running out of steam. All of that notwithstanding, this is still a notch above most of the junk polluting the multiplex screens today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really loved this movie when it first came out. It was sort of a Serpico for the 90's. The plot is a little convoluted and the movie could have perhaps used a little better screen writing, but the great performances by the magnificent cast more than makes this movie work.

    What I really think the movie does best is capture NYC as it was then. The dark side, the corruption of the political, judicial and law enforcement divisions. The not-so subtle racial divisiveness. It's all amazingly real and being a born and bred New Yorker,it was scary to watch, yet all too believable. I loved that all the characters in this movie are flawed and human. There is no real right or wrong in this movie - just shades of gray. This has been done many times in movies before and is nothing new, particularly with Sidney Lumet films, but I can't think of a movie that has done it better.

    I saw one user post a criticism for the last five minutes, I can't think of a better ending for this movie. (Spoiler alert.) When Bloomey tells Francis Reilly that it's all over and they're going to do nothing about his investigation but file it away and gives him the hard knock explanations as to why and how the world really works. I was just as floored by this scene the first time I watched it as Francis Reilly is in the movie. I just love this ending. The short epilogue with Jenny Lumet's character is OK and serves to sort of tie up a last loose end in the film.

    By the way, to that other commentator about the cheesy Rueben Blades theme song. (Don't double cross the ones you love.") Your not the only one who can't get that cheesy song out of your head whenever you watch this movie.

    Perhaps Blades should pursue a career as a jingle songwriter instead, he seems to have a lot of potential talent for it.
  • The one thing Q & A has going for it the entire time is in the form of its atmosphere; it's utterly, utterly effective atmosphere that is very much present due to one thing: we know exactly what the character of Brennan (Nolte) has done but Reilly (Hutton), who is supposed to find out exactly what the situation is, doesn't. This is an interesting idea and a bit of a spin to put on the pretty bog-standard situation of your standard, 1980s to early 1990s internal affairs cop thriller. What works is that we, the audience, have a position of power that the characters in the film do not; thus the hero (Reilly) has to work things out but we don't, however we will be with him all the way to see if he is able to crack it. Alternatively, what the audience do know is exactly what Brennan knows which perhaps lures the audience into false identification.

    I think director Lumet, who is certainly well accomplished; most definitely by the time this was made, wanted to make a bit of a noir out of this idea. He shoots the film in such a way that has the hero go on his own personal quest of discovery, even if that discovery is one he might not even want to discover given the truth behind it; Lumet also injects several different types of characters into the story: the hard bodied cop in Brennan who is harder than the hero himself (an interesting spin on things); a South American drug baron and his bodyguards; an old flame who is somehow connected to the baron; a homosexual singer/performer and some allies to the upstanding hero, two of whom are 'Chappie' Chapman (Dutton) and Luis Valentin (Guzmán). Q & A works as a noir-come-internal affairs crime story because it combines things we're familiar with but injects them with, arguably, an auteur's own personal approach. Reilly as a hero seems venerable but smart given his history with the female character now connected with the drug baron and the script consistently pumps out quality one-liners, the majority of which are spouted by Brennan.

    Adding to the noir pointers, it rains a lot in the film but it's significant as to when it rains. Reilly's reunification in the car with his old flame happens after the baron has threatened him to stay away from her thus creating tension; he has done something he shouldn't have after someone of a superior rank has told him not to. But the meeting in the car, although very well placed given the inclusion of the rain, allows us to see deeper into the past of said couple's relationship. It turns out the flame mistook (or perhaps she didn't) a look Reilly gave her father upon seeing he was black, something that obviously points to bigotry. But then again, the film is racist without ever really demeaning any race, religion or ethnic group. Certainly, the level of racism in the dialogue is rather high but when one of Reilly's friend's is in the bar telling him how much of a 'great man' the chief of homicide is, the element of hate is built up through the script and our opinions of a character alternate without him even being on screen. It's also worth saying that when you have a film which contains a character both black and homosexual, one of which is also physically weak the majority of people will have a field day going up in arms over it; but I felt the film steered away from any sort of stereotyping and thus does its best to create a realistic character without any aim to offend. It's worth saying here that director Lumet directed 12 Angry Men, a film that was all about fighting for what's right whether black, Spanish-American or whatever.

    So Q & A is a courtroom drama set outside the court; a noir that it in colour and made in the 1990s; your not so average, everyday cop thriller from the 1980s-90s and your entertaining, compelling detective novel stretched across 130 minutes complete with colourful characters, hate, love, regret and humorous one-liners and insults. Brennon is perhaps the star but given the audience know exactly what he knows throughout several of the scenes, it's almost as if he's the star. Yes, he's mean and spiteful; yes, he intimidates and goes below the belt but if anything, I read people saying: 'watch it for Nolte'. Good call, he's almost the hero given what we know and Reilly doesn't but that's the apparent genius of Q & A: you have your detective cordon, your love cordon and your hard bodied bully cordon. I could recommend Q & A for a number of things, including a re-watch just to clarify a few things but do not let a complicated plot at all put you off seeing it.
  • Anyone looking for a truly gripping, action packed and yet really moving cop film should really take a look at "Q and A" : fascinating complex plot, solid directing, and -most of all !- absolutely brilliant cast : Nick Nolte has never been so good, Armand Assante could (and should) have had an Oscar for his performance, Timothy Hutton is -as always- fabulous and so on... The only exception would be Jenny Lumet who seems ill at ease with her part (when not over-acting)... A really great film anyway...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie came out in 1990 and when it was being made in 1989 a hurricane hit the island of Puerto Rico (Hugo).We were recovering and you can see it in one scene where Hutton, Guzmán,and the guy that kills Nolte are entering the Caribe Hilton. They are passing through the lobby being tailed by Nolte and you can see a tree being held by pieces of wood. They saved a very old tree from garden of the lobby. To anyone that questions movies about being fake and unbelievable let me tell you every scene that is shot in Puerto Rico is accurate even to the locations where the characters move and live. The Caribe Hilton is ten minutes from the Cangrejos Yacht Club where Roger the Dodger, Bobby Tex and one of the cuban hit men are blown up. I got to say I learned a lot when I saw this movie. Imagine a movie about a Chinese guy, a Brazilian and an American. And the American is played by a British, south African or an irish actor. You feel a little weird and question Why not hire an American actor to play an American right? Well all that went out the window when I saw Assante play the Puertorican drug lord. I couldn't believe my eyes or my ears. Assante IS one of us in that role. Everything was authentic in that performance. Also Luis Guzman surprised me in this film with his bravura acting confronting Assante in the interrogation scene. I met him in 1993 at the premiere of the movie Carlitos Way which is another movie based on the novels by the Puertorrican Judge and author Edwin Torres. It was a film festival and Guzman and Torres talked a little bit in a podium. Later I spoke with the judge and he was great. I talked to him about Q&A and how I enjoyed his work. Finally I went to Guzman and he behaved like a little ass. Maybe he was in a bad mood or something. I shook his hand and he never spoke and kept looking at the horizon or something behind you. Maybe he thought I was gonna scream and jump on his back yelling "Hollywood". I don't know I still like him and there are few of us out there working with the best to be fighting each other. Back in 1990 i believed there were gonna be a least two nominations in this movie, one for Assante and one for Nolte. Nolte continues to do great things but I get mad when I see Assante working in crap. It is such a shame that nobody uses him for something good. Tarantino should call him. And yes that song is by Ruben Blades and I cant get it out of my head. "Dont double cross the ones you love" HAHAHA. It is so cheesy and yet I cant help it but sing it every time I see the film.
  • utdman44 January 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    all in all i have to say this is a pretty impressive movie,great performance from nick nolte,and good performances from timothy hutton and armand assante, i watched this about 20 years ago and it still holds up today compared to any bent cop movies. Nolte gives and electrifying performance as dirty cop mike brennan, up against the younger asst district att, (hutton) who is given a clear cut case of self defence starts to dig deeper and finds out that hes up against a legend on the force, and a possible cover up that goes right to the top, throw in an ex-girlfriend who has taken up with a possible witness and you,ve got a great movie from the late great sydney lumet.
  • Messily written film about an internal investigation of a murder by a star police officer. The film takes it's point-of-view from the investigator, and creates it's drama by following him deeper into the case.

    The poor screenplay and over-complication lets this film down. Nick Nolte's character is pretty much the only thing that will you keep you interested, as unlikable as he is.

    The side-line love story adds nothing to the film, apart from adding to any impatience you may be experiencing about the conclusion of what should be a very simple story.

    Armand Assante is very good in this also, and you can't help but wonder why they didn't exploit his talents a little more, and the lead character's a little less.
  • Gary-1617 February 2000
    "Yeah, what?" - "Who are we getting to chew up the scenery as Mike Brennan?" - "You kiddin' me? You specialising in bustin' my b**ls? Send for Nick Nolte!" - "Nick (choke) Nolte? Are you talking to me? I've just been on the phone to the mayor and the D.A. is crawlin' up my ass. You're a dinosaur, Lumet. Your ideas don't fit today. I want your director's guild ID on this desk now. People have a nasty habit of gettin' DEAD around you!"

    This is one of Lumet's three hour and always worthy examinations of police corruption and compromised idealism. This is similiar to his 'Prince of the city' although it's not let down by an actor like Treat Williams who was not up to the job. Q&A suffers from some over-ripe, stagey and over played performances that are allowed to run on longer than the scene's necessity. It also has such ugliness and perversion that you wonder whether the film really needed to be made as we have been down this road before. Hutton has the best scene whereby his heart is broken by a loyal old mentor who always warned him that it was inevitable.

    The main problem I have with this film is the susposed racism of the Reilly character. I'm not sure about the point of the subplot and why would a man who has a coloured girlfriend be shocked that her father is black? Surely it was on the cards.
  • Sidney Lumet does what he does best. Tell a story about law and order in New York and look into police corruption.

    Timothy Hutton plays Reilly, a young former cop turned assistant district attorney asked by the police commissioner (Patrick O'Neal) to look into the shooting of a Puerto Rican criminal by detective Brennan (Nick Nolte) who claims it was self defence. The commissioner tells him that its an open and shut case and also tells him that if its not in the Q&A then it did not happen.

    However Hutton is determined and finds flaws in Brennan's story and the case leads him to a charismatic Puerto Rican crime boss called Bobby Tex (Armand Assante) whose wife was once Hutton's girlfriend until he discovered she was mixed race.

    It looks like Brennan is an out of control cop who is trying to get rid of some select criminals on behalf of someone at the top. The commissioner turns out to be a hypocrite as he later tells Hutton that he is taking the Q&A too seriously.

    Nolte gives a larger than live performance as the foul mouthed, racist, homophobic, brutish cop who is a legend in the department. The first one through the door and is willing to break the law if necessary. His fellow cops know better to cross him and have to put up with his jibes. However he does not run away with the acting stakes as he is matched by Assante and Hutton.

    Assante gives a scene stealing performance as the drug dealer who just wants to get out of the business alive. He knows Brennan is dangerous and frankly he knows too much hence why he wants out. This was an era when Assante looked to have broken through and had a good run of films in the early 1990s.

    Timothy Hutton could had been a brat packer in the early 1980s. He was a contemporary of Tom Cruise, Sean Penn but separated from them early on for the simple reason by 1981 he was a best supporting actor Oscar winner. Since then Hutton decided to work with acclaimed directors or make interesting even offbeat films. The result is he might not be as well known today to cinema audiences but he has had a varied filmography.

    Here Hutton plays the earnest ADA who is out to cross swords with Brennan but he himself is flawed. His father was a cop and might had been on the take. His treatment of his former girlfriend suggests he might also be a racist himself.

    This is a moderately budget, moody, noir thriller. Ruben Blades matches the mood with his soundtrack. Director Sidney Lumet was in the twilight of his career and this was maybe his last great film. Of course he was probably jaded with the criminal justice system by then and you always sense the film has a cynical and depressed air about it. That the system is rotten to the core and cannot be fixed.

    Lumet gets his actors to pull out top performances and even some of the minor characters make their mark.
  • Q & A is one of the most enigmatic films I've seen. It veers drastically between exceptionally good and oddly clunky and sometimes threatens to be pretty poor – and not necessarily in that order. It follows an investigation into a shooting by Michael Brennan, an experienced and ferociously tough police officer played magnificently by Nick Nolte in his pomp. The investigation is conducted by Timothy Hutton, who is a true revelation (to me, at least) as an almost equally tough, but mostly non-violent, lawyer. The situation is muddied by a shady drug-runner (Armand Assante) and a manipulative senior officer (Patrick O'Neal).

    The introduction to Nolte's character is fabulous scene-setting, as he holds court with fellow officers regarding some previous rough-housing of a suspect. The Brennan profile is deep and somewhat mysterious – we like him, we hate him, we are disgusted by him….and we want to see more of him. Speaking of which, the film could have benefited from more interplay between Nolte and Hutton. Hutton's brilliantly understated resilience to the aggression of Nolte and Assante, is a surprise and adds a true edginess to the film. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the very clunky love interest Hutton has with Assante's mistress – we discover they are former lovers who split up over some fairly tenuous business about her father being black. The continued revisiting of this strained relationship is weak and uses time that one feels could be better served building the Brennan character or at least promoting the Nolte/Hutton feud.

    Other questionable points in the film concern the various plot turns that are almost casually thrown in and, whilst we don't lose track of proceedings, one feels we could have been given a better idea of how the characters arrive in certain situations. In short, by occasionally rushing things, Q & A often has you wondering if it's a bad film.

    But there are some moments that are truly great – various scenes with Nolte, and a short office tantrum by Hutton towards the end. You certainly feel that if this film featured more high profile actors it would be considered much more significant than it is currently. I would recommend Q & A to anyone simply for the performances of Nolte and Hutton – and obviously to fans of gritty cop dramas, who will love it anyway.
  • Lieutenant Michael Brennan has a tough reputation as an old-style cop that breaks balls but gets the job done. However had someone seen Brennan hiding in a dark alley outside a club until his suspect came out for a p1ss only for Brennan to shoot him dead and plant a gun that had been used in other murders, then that reputation may not do him much good. On this occasion Assistant DA Al Francis is brought in to do the investigation – one that is sold to him as a formality to get him started. The Q & A's go well but Francis is given enough to doubt that the shooting was as clean as Brennan tells it – however Brennan is not the type you easily square up to and soon the stakes are high.

    Opening with a sudden moment of violence this film leaves you in no doubt that Brennan is not a rough cop so much as a cop operating above the law on his own agenda. Like The Shield has done recently this drama puts us in the complex world of the grey areas and invites us to consider the pay off between doing things by the book or taking hard action and "getting results". It doesn't do this to a great extent though – just enough to be add layers to the character but clearly corrupt enough to be the evil heart of the story. The narrative builds a dark drama involving the police investigation into Brennan on one side, with the criminal awareness of Brennan's murders on the other. It isn't really a character piece about Brennan so much as it is a straight crime drama but it works very well for what it is. I have no idea why it is so underrated on IMDb because it is an effective thriller with an enjoyably tough edge to it from start to near-finish. I say near-finish because the film concludes by tying up the story with Francis' relationships and soul – neither of which are that well done across the film and thus I didn't care as much as I should have done.

    Lumet's direction is good and captures the depressing feel of New York at its lowest point. However the choice of music has two detrimental effects. Firstly it dates the film really badly, which is maybe a problem that can be forgiven as part of time going by. The second impact is less forgivable and must have been a problem at the time and this is how the music fits with the drama. For example several key scenes are played out under the chirpy tune "Don't Double-Cross the Ones you Love"; it is as grating and clunky as it sounds and it is a stupid effect that happens several times with the same result.

    The cast are mostly very good though. Nolte chews the scenery and steals every scene with a character so monstrous that even his absurd handlebar moustache cannot take away from it. Hutton is good enough to do the job but sadly his character isn't as convincing as it needed to be; the script tries to make him more interesting than a choir boy but it doesn't do it very well. Assante is a little OTT at times but he works well in his character and fills the gap left by Nolte's absence. Minor support is good and features a cast that got starry with time – Guzmán, Dutton, Chianese, Finkel and others. Lumet tries hard but her part of the narrative is weak and thus her task is a rather thankless one.

    Despite the problems though this is still a solid and dark cop drama that holds the interest well. Some of the performances may verge on ham, the music may be mostly awful and some elements of the narrative fall flat but for what it does well it is certainly worth a look.
  • This is a pretty good cop movie until the last five minutes, that bit should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

    Good to see Nick Nolte playing a bad a$$ for a change. 7/10 if you cut off the secondary superfluous ending.
  • A potentially excellent dirty-cop thriller, Lumet's film never really achieves lift-off thanks to a redundant romantic subplot which drags the pace. Fortunately, the performances redeem it. Nolte is great as the violent pawn, Assante totally convincing as the criminal warlord, and Hutton simply outstanding as the rookie assistant DA whose wide-eyed innocence masks real strength - and an interesting weakness. For the same thing, done even better, check out Harold Becker's 'City Hall' (1996).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Q&A was made from the novel of the same title written by Edwin Torres, who wrote the Carlito's way trilogy. To view it as a police corruption film is a little off the mark. It's a cop drama with a single murderous dirty cop carrying out a series of executions for a corrupt DA who has political ambitions.

    Quinn, the DA, wants to be mayor for a start, then maybe senator and then president, but he has a history of juvenile crime. To make sure it stays covered, he twists the screws on a corrupt cop, Brennan, to get Brennan to kill all the surviving members of Quinn's old gang, The Sinners, who saw Quinn commit a murder in the course of the shakedown of a bodega owner.

    There are no weak actors in the cast. A few turn in stellar performances, such as Armand Assante and Luis Guzman. Better reviews have already been posted, and this one is just intended to lay out the rest of the storyline, giving the "whys" for the murders.
  • Q&A casts Nick Nolte as a hero supercop who is known for cutting corners to get results. The film opens with him doing his own gangland style execution of a Puerto Rican drug dealer. But given his status in the NYPD he's expecting a clean bill of health.

    As it is a homicide and the Chief of the Homicide Bureau in the New York County DA's office Patrick O'Neal assigns young ADA Timothy Hutton fresh to the Bureau on his first case there. O'Neal much like the Navy in A Few Good Men expecting Tom Cruise to plea bargain the defendants, expects Hutton to do a perfunctory job and clear Nolte. And why not, Hutton is a former cop who went to law school at night to get his degree and he's the son of a former colleague of Nolte's.

    But Hutton has a string of idealism in him and that complicates matters all around. So do the homicide cops assigned to investigate Nolte and both know him, Charles S. Dutton and Luis Guzman. Also Hutton has an unknown connection to one of the chief witnesses Armand Assante who is another drug dealer, but way up on the scale. He's now married to a woman Hutton used to see when he was a beat cop in the 23rd precinct which is Spanish Harlem played by Jenny Lumet.

    Director Sidney Lumet loves New York even the dark underbelly of the Big Apple. We've never seen it so systemically corrupt as it is in Q&A. In many ways the most idealistic character in the film is that played by Armand Assante. Another good character is that of Lee Richardson who plays an investigator with the DA's office who has learned to bend and not let things break him.

    O'Neal has a vested interest in this outcome, but it's one I couldn't get my mind wrapped around. Still he is chillingly malevolent and has big political ambitions. Hutton has a vested interest as well, he's part of the corruption though he doesn't realize it until the end.

    Nolte is one out of control racist, homophobic cop who like so many homophobes has those latent tendencies in him. Check his interaction with some of the gay and transgender folks involved in this case.

    Q&A is not one of Lumet's best films, still his all seeing camera makes New York itself part of the cast and he gets some great performances from his ensemble.
  • I very much enjoyed this little Sidney Lumet gem from 1990, it certainly exceeded my expectations. Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante are first-rate, but the real thing that had me fixed to the screen was the powerhouse performance from Nick Nolte as deranged police Lieutenant Mike Brennan. I've seen scary cops before, but not like this. He is like a rabid dog. He is what GG Allin would have been if he was a cop instead of a rocker. A 6 foot, hulking monster who would tear Dennis Peck (Richard Gere's slimy cop in 'Internal Affairs) a brand new a**hole. If you're looking for a vile, unrestrained and unpredictable villain who kicks ass, look no further. Lots of good twists, with a tense atmosphere and a cheesy albeit humorous soundtrack, give Q & A a watch if you come across it.
  • I won't recap all the raves from others, but I will say that having read the book first it feels like the production ran out of money and left out the real ending in the book.

    For example, anyone ever wonder what Quinn's hold over Brennan was? They allude to it in the movie, but the book makes it clear and it's important.

    Weren't satisfied that justice was served to ALL parties? The book has a very satisfying, albeit bittersweet wrap-up.

    I cannot believe Sidney Lumet would have left us hanging that way with such a cop-out ending so I have to believe this already modestly-budgeted film ran out of money and was forced to make some compromises and wrap up the story with an abrupt and downbeat ending as opposed to a satisfying and realistic one.
  • For anyone who likes crime dramas of the 1980s and 1990s like Extreme Prejudice and Playing God this is a movie for you. It has NYC Mafia, their Puerto Rican gangster allies, a corrupt DA Office, police corruption and drag queens all thrown together in a bunch of interconnected sub plots that unravel into a series of violent retributions going to the story resolution.
An error has occured. Please try again.