"Vice" (2008) is really a very good neo-noir and, in some respects, excellent. Michael Madsen is first rate in this one. The dialog is terrific, the direction is crisp. The supporting cast is strong, including notably Mark Boone Junior and Daryl Hannah. The story's elements may be familiar but not the way they are mixed. Madsen is a vice cop, close to burned out, who skirts the rules. His scenes with everyone are highly emotional: with his mother, with prostitutes, with fellow cops. He shows it in the contortions of his rugged face. He etches emotion vividly in every line he delivers. This is no by-the-numbers performance. This is a man trying desperately to hold on to some value in this subterranean world. In his voice-overs, he conveys thoroughly a dark philosophy built around his experiences in this world. He's reached a point where life and death are merged in his mind, not distinct. In the final analysis, he has to fall back on a childhood faith and a psalm.
The story will keep you off-balance because it has several layers and all the loose ends are not tied up neatly, simulating the uncertainty in the story that revolves around two things. Who stole some of the drug cache after a big drug bust? Who is assassinating members of the drug squad? This film is way underrated on IMDb (at 4.9). It's really significantly better than that indicates.
Raul Inglis wrote and directed this film, showing great insight, skill and promise. I favorably reviewed his "American Heist" earlier this year. This too is underrated by IMDb viewers (at 5.2). That story had depth, well-written characters and an excellent performance by Adrien Brody. Perhaps audience expectations are clashing with the actual films, or perhaps they're not seeing the depth in his writing or the performances. Whatever the reasons are, Mr. Inglis is to be encouraged in his work.