Journalist Jake Bridges (William L. Petersen) goes to Atlantic City to drink himself to oblivion. He is saved from a bar brawl by Frankie (Michael Wincott), a likeable tough guy for a small-time mob. As Frankie and Jake start to work together, Jake falls in love with Frankie’s girlfriend Melissa (Diane Lane). Kevin Gage plays Ward, a police detective using Jake to take down Frankie’s “employer.”
Gage’s Ward is one of the few characters who is on the “good side” of the law, though he doesn’t feel like a good guy. He is ill-tempered and threatening, with a violent streak and a maniacal laugh. But inexplicably, in his last scene as he watches Jake being led handcuffed into the police station, he offers a quiet smile.
This is a pretentious but very watchable film, with good performances all around. The DVD includes an audio commentary track by the director and writer. Look for their comments on Kevin Gage and his ability to portray violence, both potential and actual.