Welcome to the city of Edison, which has implemented a special operations police department called F.R.A.T. - but are they above the law? Tonight two cops, the mean Lazerov (Dylan McDermott) and the more conflicted Deed (LL Cool J) are out to make a drugs bust, but there's a little more to it than that as two young criminals discover when the lawmen barge in and take away their drugs money. Not content with the cash, Lazerov orders Deed to shoot one of the drug dealers, and though Deed aims his gun he can't go through with the killing. Lazerov has no such qualms, however, and murders him in cold blood. There is a trial where Lazerov and his department make out the killing was in self defence, making sure the court take it easy on the surviving criminal (Damien Wayans); but when budding reporter Josh Pollack (Justin Timberlake) overhears him whisper "thank you" to Lazerov, he senses a story...
For a while it seemed as though Edison, written and directed by David J. Burke, might never be released at all, such was the poor word of mouth surrounding the project. When it was finally released, it was pretty much direct to video everywhere and watching it it's easy to see why: it's not a terrible film, just achingly average. The most notable thing about it, and what generated the most flak, was that Timberlake had a major role in it, and I don't know if he was cast last, but it looks as if he was cast first and Burke and his producers assembled a heavyweight cast of seasoned actors around him: Morgan Freeman as his editor, Kevin Spacey in a terrible wig as a shadowy authority figure, John Heard as the head of the corruption, and so on.
The best performance is from LL Cool J, but as this amounts to a general mood of grumpiness maybe that's not saying much. The best performance certainly doesn't come from Timberlake, who remains curiously charisma free for such a big name star, but I guess nobody said that musical success equates with acting talent - unless you're LL Cool J, in this instance. There's barely an original moment in the whole film, as Josh is fired by his boss, then reinstated when he turns up at his home with a terrific story that he'll risk his career on, and the dodgy cops could have hailed from any number of police thrillers since the nineteen-seventies. Josh is intimidated and attacked, leaving himself on a witness protection programme and his girlfriend (Piper Perabo) in a coma, but nothing will stop him and his drive for truth. Edison appears slick enough, but sounds hollow, and really smells of "watch this if it was on T.V. and there was nothing better on". Plus it shows up Freeman's embarrassing lack of dancing skills. Music by Machine Head.
[Lionsgate's DVD has a featurette and a trailer as extras.]