Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 2014. 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Cross Creek Pictures, Da Vinci Media Ventures, Double Feature Films, Exclusive Media Group, Jersey Films, Manu Propria Entertainment, Traveling Picture Show Company. Screenplay by Scott Frank, based on the novel by Lawrence Block. Cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr.. Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by
Years after a bad experience made him turn his back on the police force, Liam Neeson has become an unlicensed private detective, which means he only does the odd favour for a friend but can forever afford New York rent.
Now in recovery from alcoholism (and, most of the time, sunlight), he is embroiled in a Chandleresque conundrum when a high-powered drug trafficker (Dan Stevens) hires him to track down the men who killed his wife. Neeson finds out before long that he is on the trail of two very disturbed monsters, men who are wandering the city cutting bodies into pieces and willing to stop at nothing to indulge their pleasure, which means that Stevens’ wife is not the last victim of the case.
Despite a familiar structure that is not elaborated upon one bit, this sturdy thriller by Scott Frank is well worth watching for fans of the genre, a wholly gruesome story that is told with restraint visually but with no small amount of tension and fear (sensitive viewers be warned).
It never takes itself too seriously and as such is a juicily fun murder mystery, but the terrific performances and tightscrew direction, not to mention economical script that has very little unnecessary editorializing, also help keep it from being the ridiculous self-importance of a movie like Seven.