Captain Michael Brennan (Nick Nolte) is a much decorated and highly regarded cop, he is also a dirty cop who plants evidence, kills as he feels necessary and puts pressure on those who would even dare question him. It is after his latest exploits outside a night club that new on the job Assistant D.A. Al Reilly (Timothy Hutton) receives a call from his boss Kevin Quinn (Patrick O'Neal) who wants him to handle the case in a quick and efficient manner as Brennan is a great cop who should be doing what he does best. With the aid of his team, Luis Valentin (Luis Guzman) and Sam Chapman (Charles Dutton), they start doing the Q & A but find themselves conflicted as they come across some inconsistencies in the statements which in turn lead them to mob-connected drug dealer Bobby Tex (Armand Assante). But that complicates matter for Al as Tex is with Nancy Bosch (Jenny Lumet) who happens to be Al's ex who split up over race issues. With Brennan and Quinn putting pressure on Al and his team it becomes very uncomfortable for them and very messy.
"Q & A" sees director Sidney Lumet return to one of his favourite stomping grounds with a storyline surrounding yet another dirty cop and like his previous movies which deal with the subject this is another thoroughly entertaining movie. It shouldn't be a surprise to say that but when you consider that the dirty cop story has been used again and again for someone to deliver a movie which still keeps you involved is close to a miracle.
Now "Q & A" keeps you involved in many ways as it has a nice cross section of stories going on. We have the old boy's network of the law where Brennan is known to be a dirty cop but those in the gang idolize him and even those in power protect him with that sense of belonging being on offer to Al if he chooses to over look things. But there is another sense of belonging for Al to deal with as the case brings him in to contact with a former lover. There is also the sense of history for Al because his father was a respected cop in the precinct. Plus there is more and director Sidney Lumet uses all these stories to craft a fascinating picture which evolves whilst being built around the simple basis of a young assistant DA going after a dirty cop. And you don't know how it is going to end for one single minute because of the way it evolves and becomes more than the initial set up.
What Lumet does is also hire actors who can deliver character and big performances so here you have Nick Nolte and Armand Assante in bulldozing form, smashing down almost anyone who shares a scene with them. Although it is not just big actors who deliver big performances and the late Leonardo Cimino delivers an equally powerful performance just by making his character of Nick the mob boss big, to the point that amusingly the small Cimino dominates the much larger Nolte in a scene which they share. And then there is Timothy Hutton who in many ways does the right thing by not even trying to compete as it fits with the inexperience of his character, so he is ballsy but not cocky or over confident like the others.
What this all boils down to is that "Q & A" is 132 minutes of worth while entertainment, working the familiar dirty cop storyline but elaborating it in such way that it never becomes tedious.