Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James
Plot: Two corrupt cops set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Events, however, are complicated by the arrival of someone who appears to be even more dangerous than they are.
IMDB Score: 5.9
Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes
Why I watched it: I was on the fence with this one, I had seen the trailer and thought it looked alright, at first I heard good things but then there was a kind of backlash saying on violent and vile all the characters were, I decided to give it a go.
Random thoughts: Just to get it out of the way, this is a tricky film to review cause it’s a few genres rolled into one and it really feels like a throwback movie to me, late 80’s early 90’s, gritty, not PC at all and the good guys are more anti heroes or less bad than the guys they go up against and even with everything going on some vile shit happens there’s a lot of humor to it, dark but there’s some laughs. This one is not for everyone that’s for sure.
What I liked: The biggest thing for me that worked is the two main characters played by Skarsgard and Pena, their not just types or cliches, they’re not defined by being cops or corrupt. Now there’s a lot of violence, swearing and some vile things going on in this film but for me it’s a character study, not only the two main characters but their friendship. They don’t talk about it but these guys love each as friends, there’s a couple of times when other people say some bad things to one about the other and you can tell it not only pisses them off but they don’t buy it. For all this film is I think it does a good job of not over talking some of the big points, they don’t talk about their friendship, their home lives, they feel like real people in these lives not just written for a plot device.
For my money Michael Pena is one of the best actors working today, one of the most versatile and underrated he’s played in almost every genre you could think of the funny thing here he does have the big arc it’s Skarsgard. One thing I like about his film is that it starts out as a buddy cop film, granted corrupt cops, I want to make this clear they only screw around with bad guys, their not Bad Lieutenant bad, they’re in it for the money. Things change as the case they’re chasing brings them into contact with some different people. Skarsgard character is almost always drinking and we find out he lives alone in a big house, Pena is married with two kids.
We also find out Skarsgard character has some demons, he ends up dating a girl he meets and also picking up a boy who’s mother killed his father, now the thing that surprised me about the film is that in this action genre they kind of include some really touching subjects and we find Skarsgard might have something in common with the boy. For me their’s a heart to this film, a twisted heart but it’s there. The bad guys in this film at least the two main ones are vile, I’ll give Theo James credit here cause he’s playing against type and he underplays, he doesn’t run around over the top he’s a spooky, creepy guy. Caleb Landry Jones is right out of the 70’s with his look and performance and he out creeps James.
What I didn’t like: Tone is it’s biggest problem, like I said it’s tricky, some people are going to be turned off cause it’s not black and white, this is a very dark grey film. Sometimes the film is hurt by it’s sense of humor considering what else is going on. As much as I like the character work here I do feel Pena’s character could have been fleshed out more, we know he’s married with two boys and they seem to have a good relationship, but besides providing for his family we don’t really know why he does what he does. Skarsgard is a wounded animal, a broken toy and he kind of follows, he’s looking for a family. Now this is done with a lot of subtext I think the film would have been better if it toned down some of the “cool action” stuff and dealt even more with the motivations.
Final thoughts: One think I didn’t mention is I did find the film funny at times, there’s some fun bits, they follow this lead to Iceland, and suddenly their in Iceland dressed the same and freezing their asses off. For me this is a film you are either on board for or not, some people are going to be turned off and rightfully so but I liked enough of it to go along for the ride.