Rated: R for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: September 19, 2014 Released by: The Weinstein Company
Liam Neeson is back as a tough guy again. This time as a private-eye former cop who is compared to the old film noir detectives like Mike Hammer and Sam Spade.
Director Scott Frank mirrors, light and dark and reflective images to tell a story that begins in the early nighties and runs to the end of the decade. It begins with a shoot out that looks like Dirty Harry going after three bad guys who rob and shoot a bartender in an establishment that police officer Neeson is having a liquid lunch in. He heads after the escaping three, killing two and wounding one. But the dark world he falls into occurs when he realizes he as killed a young girl with a shot that bounces wild on the street.
Now he is off the force and makes a living as a non licensed private detective, who is called in to determine who killed the wife of a drug kingpin.
The tracing of what happen to the woman leads to uncovering other similar kidnappings which resulted in brutal creepy murders of drug wives. The private-eye searches out the driver of a van that was seen at one of the kidnapping location and after disclosing the torture murder process he dramatically removes himself from the story. A new ally comes from an unexpected source, a young homeless kid named TJ and played quite well by Astro. He brings quick smart lines to the script along with insights and a curiosity that keeps him in the middle of the action to the end.
While the initial detective work is interesting, filled with following clues, doing interviews and searching the locations of the crime scenes, the center of the film is filled with the brutality and horror of the process of dismembering the captured women. At times it's uncomfortable and begins to look like a segment of a horror film. But the drama and the determination of the PI keep the film on track and demand our attention throughout.
The city of New York is the background and it is interesting to see the twin towers on the sky line. The film does take place before 9-11.
Neeson is a little less invincible here than is some of his past films and the drug dealers are all cautious rather than tough guys who are ready to get the killers of members of their families. They are ready to pay money but don't appear ready to send the gang after the sick duo who is kidnapping to make money from the drug dealers.
Overall this is a satisfying thriller to begin the fall season, you will certainly not fall asleep with Neeson and Astro on the case.
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