American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"One Good Cop" wanted to manipulate my emotions, and I was willing to let it try, but finally it was so shameless that I'd had enough. I always feel creepy anyway in movies where cute little children look at the camera with big brown eyes and beg for my sympathy. The movie is slick and clever, but it's immoral at its core, and the more you think about it, the more dishonest it seems.
The story. Two cops (Michael Keaton and Anthony LaPaglia) are partners on the New York City police force. LaPaglia has lost his wife and is raising his three adorable daughters by himself. The cops are called to a hostage situation where a guy is out of his mind on drugs and holding his wife and kids at gunpoint. LaPaglia, crazed by the fear that the man will kill the wife, rushes him and is shot dead.
Now comes the sticky part. Keaton and his wife (Rene Russo) take the three girls in, and the wife would like to adopt them. She can't have kids of her own, and she's fallen in love with these little angels. Alas, on Keaton's salary they live in a cramped apartment and the social worker sniffs as she looks around. The kids will probably go to some agency, and be adopted by strangers. If only Keaton could buy this big old house in the Bronx, things would be great.
But where to get the money? How about from the slimy drug dealer who sold the dope that led to the hostage situation? Keaton pulls a mask over his head, sticks up the druglord, takes the money he needs for the house and gives the rest to an orphanage. But his stick-up is flawed because an undercover cop figures out it had to be Keaton - and then, after a shootout, several deaths and the usual action climax, it looks as if Keaton will lose his badge and his gun and be arraigned on criminal charges.