This gripping police corruption thriller manages to acquit itself fairly well despite showing some very conspicuous seams. As usual, Samuel L. Jackson plays the slick "bad m.f." character to near-perfection and Kevin Spacey, trying his hand at action, hammers down his fairly straight role. All the vital elements of suspense drama are present; unfortunately, a few sleight-of-hand script shortcuts give the movie an amateurish feel. F. Gary Gray's bang-up direction should please the genre's fans, most of whom flocked to his previous action endeavor, Set It Off. Gray, who started his career making music videos, tends toward the spectacular, giving the film a grandiose, MTV-ish feel. In the end, the all-star appearances of Spacey and Jackson give the film its identity: the two Hollywood powerhouses make more out of the typically flat action storyline.