In Fifties Los Angeles, Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), Bud White (Russell Crowe) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) are three very different cops. Ed is ambitious and incorruptible, Bud takes pleasure in beating up wrong-doers, and Jack works as technical advisor to the television show 'Badge of Honour'. Ed earns the enmity of Bud and Jack when he testifies that they were involved in the beating of a group of Mexicans in police custody, but all three men become involved after a mass-murder takes place at the Nite Owl cafe. Initially, it seems that a group of black junkies are responsible, but further investigation leads to evidence of blackmail, prostitution and a police cover-up in high places. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.