True Believer

(1989) Joseph Ruben. Roku.

A movie with James Woods as an ex-hippie NYC lawyer who wears a purple scrunchy, and Robert Downey, Jr. as a preppie Ivy League grad straight from a Whit Stillman movie, and directed by the man who made The Stepfather, should have been a classic 80s flick.  Still worth a watch tho.

Woods plays West Village lawyer Eddie Dodd, who repurposes the Civil Rights Movement which made him a counterculture star in the 1960s against the War on Drugs in 1980s gangland New York.  Dodd's clients pay with big wads of dirty cash.  Robert Downey, Jr., as Roger Baron, wears the tortoise-shell glasses and parted hair of the 1980s yuppie, but Roger is somehow invested in the leftist activism of the 1960s which Baby Boomers long traded in for Wall Street.  And these same Boomers can still buy good coke because Eddie Dodd is getting their dealers off and back on the street, in the name of constitutional rights.

Roger's naive idealism re-conjures Dodd's bewizened idealism, and the two agitate the Justice System to ultimately reveal the corrupt tactics of the Manhattan D.A., Robert Reynard.  Reynard exploits the image of a crackdown on crime by manipulating the solving of crimes, and an innocent Korean kid gets a life sentence for a Chinatown hit orchestrated by Reynard to cook the stats and jack his profile.

True Believer pre-dates the use of Comstat by the NYPD, when Rudolph Giuliani was mayor, and portrays law enforcement as an abuser of the law, as many criticized Giuliani.   Eddie Dodd and Roger Baron are an inspired pair of crusaders, and their nemesis, the D.A. Reynard, played by Kurtwood Smith with the smug villain's smirk of Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, is the right dialectical bad guy for this ugly but roistering moment in New York history.

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