Within the context of another "normal" day in a big city homicide squad, Mantegna's tough, respected Bobby Gold is a lone Jewish cop who regards his partners and his job as family and heritage. Bobby is sidetracked on a routine case of an elderly Jewish shopkeeper killed in a mean little robbery, where things may or may not be what they seem and a series of clues and strange events lead to an anti-Jewish conspiracy and a counter gang of Zionist vigilantes.
Playwright/screenwriter/director David Mamet's third feature assumes the guise of a cop thriller to present his favourite player, Joe Mantegna, in an absorbing character study of an outsider compelled to belong somewhere.
Irish, Hispanic or Black, these cops' loyalties are to each other as they contend with crazies, killers and manouevering politicians. In his theatrical, almost stylised swirls around the police precinct, Mamet peppers this set-up with a rhythmic cross-fire of punchy one-liners, oaths, insults and philosophising: "Don't you want to understand the nature of evil?" offers a murderer; "No," answers Bobby, "because then I wouldn't be able to do my job."
Littered with McGuffins, menace and solid performances from Mamet regulars, Homicide is seldom less than intriguing as a crime thriller and mystery, complete with a shockingly mundane explanation for some of the things the audience has understood through Bobby's eyes.
As a psychological drama, it's a sophisticated, gripping piece that unusually leaves you wanting to go on past its unsettling conclusion.