A flawed but hard modern drug world oriented cop thriller, Joe Carnahan’s new flick owes a lot to William Friedkin’s “The French Connection”. In many way this is a similar flick – following two very distinct and tough cops, both with their own methods and rough backstories as they try to work together to find out who killed the older cop’s previous partner.
Like ‘French’ this is shot on cold urban decaying streets with a rough everyday look that’s never highly stylised (ala “Training Day”), rather done in a way that makes this dark environment so ugly and barren that its no wonder it turns out people like this. However there’s a strong pace and energy to it which stops the action onscreen from ever becoming too glum or mirred down in depression.
Both Liotta & Patric give superb performances – the former doing his standard hot headed veteran with his own agenda routine, the latter as a man trying to deal with his own internal problems whilst both reluctantly returning to duty and awkwardly dealing with the way Liotta works.
As cop buddy projects go this is quite different in that there’s zero humour in the flick, not to mention the fact both pretty much hate either. Neither is particularly sub-ordinate to the other, both have their own strong presence. The scenes with Patric and his wife prove especially realistic in tone and underline the sadness and duty he has to his work and himself. The great Chi McBride and usually more comedically inclined Busta Rhymes both do solid jobs in more serious supporting parts.
The handheld cinematography does get a bit distracting, even though right off the bat its used for one hell of a chase sequence in the film’s opening moments. The script doesn’t really have much of a point to it, but thankfully avoids many pitfalls and cliches certain scenes could’ve easily fallen into. Indeed it manages to turn around some of them including the quite clever ending, however the subject matter is all treated very morosely and the unrelenting seriousness will turn away a wide audience. Shame really, its a more solid effort than most in this genre in quite a while and deserves some good recognition.