That's what I said last week about Casey Affleck's character in Gone Baby Gone, and yet that same line could apply to Russel Crowe's character in American Gangster.
An early scene in American Gangster shows Russell Crowe and his police partner finding a million unmarked dollars, and despite the obvious corruption among the New Jersey police force, Crowe, a man of black and white, right and wrong turns in the money, which results in his isolation and contempt from the other police officers, but also leads to a unique opportunity to run a newly formed narcotics team.
My favorite part of this film is the way it handles and opens up questions about these issues of morality. I think that many people find themselves at time justifying what is right and what is wrong. And our justification of right and wrong is so common.
Yet I think the portrayal of Richie Robert's character (in terms of his police work and ethics) is very noble. Living on principles of right and wrong in his police work allows him to in time make a significant difference. I think that relativistic thinking tends to deal far more with short term payoff.
Most of the characters in this movie pay a penalty for the relativistic thinking. This includes Harlem Gangster Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who sees nothing wrong with the crime and distribution of drugs...his thought process, if he's not doing it someone else is. Grandma Lucas (Ruby Dee) ignores and turns a blind eye to what's happening, yet reaps the financial benefit, but watches her children's lives destroyed. Various cops and city officials take short term payoffs and bribes, but for many of them it explodes in their face.
Granted these "reap what you sow principles" do not all surface instantly, but I don't think they usually do. Even if you can justify doing what is wrong, it doesn't stop it from being wrong.