In which BW culture editor Paul Barndt presents a swashbuckling throwback.

edisonNow that you’ve had a chance to see Justin Timberlake in Alpha Dog three or four times, rent Edison Force, his feature film debut, a cop thriller also featuring Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman, as well as LL Cool J, Dylan McDermott, and Cary Elwes. It never saw a theatrical release, and with a cast that strong, a straight-to-DVD release can only mean one thing: this movie’s bad. But it’s not that bad—in many ways it’s a poor man’s Training Day, and some of you poor souls actually liked that movie. Maybe you’ll like this one, too.

The action begins with a meaningless “life on the streets is tough” voiceover from Rafael Deed (LL Cool J), the newest member of FRAT, an elite police force that patrols the city of Edison. Deed soon realizes that the FRATboys are crooked, debauched, and homicidal, and justifiably begins to have second thoughts about his new brothers-in-arms.

Meanwhile, Timberlake is a plucky young journalist uncovering FRAT’s corruption, with a little help from Freeman, his editor, and Spacey, a police investigator. The story is baggy, taking up and dropping subplots as it pleases. But at its core, Edison Force is a conventional and gripping enough action flick, one that should compel you to watch you all the way through. With all these A- and B-list actors working with C-list material, some priceless moments are bound to emerge. Watch LL brandish a flamethrower! Watch Dylan McDermott shoot a cheerleader! Watch those three greats of the silver screen—Spacey, Freeman, and Timberlake—sharing a scene for the first time! In all seriousness, JT’s performance is low-key and decent. Nothing special, mind you, but never distracting, and definitely beats Mariah Carey in Glitter. And if you’re not a fan, he does get the shit beaten out of him—yet another reason to rent.