The IMDb vote tally is 4.9, suggesting it's not a winner. They could not be more wrong.
But several of the reviews nail it down:
"The plot sounds stereotypical, and it is. The film is a collection of classic clichés that somehow cinch together masterfully."
"The acting is great. Madsen knows he's playing a scumbag and plays a great one."
"For a film that is 70% talk, the dialogue is really good. I was interested in these characters and their lives, especially the lines given to Madsen. He does a great job with the lines he's given, which are noir one-liners that fit great with the source material. The pacing is slow but the dialogue and action make up for it."
"There should have been a lot of gnashing of teeth and muttered resentments when this movie debuted, because Vice is the sort of dark, urban crime drama that a thousand filmmakers have tried to create. 999 of them fail, sometimes spectacularly so. This is that one success. It takes the Mel Gibson character from Lethal Weapon, strips away all the Hollywood artifice and then plunges him into a world of overlapping corruption and deceit. Featuring powerfully unadorned dialog, several excellent scenes where we get to see some gifted actors stretch out inside their characters' skin and broodingly strong direction that snaps into the offbeat at perfect, unexpected moments, this film could be just as appropriately titled 'Virtue'."