Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 2021. Gran Via, Warner Bros.. Screenplay by John Lee Hancock. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by John Lee Hancock, Mark Johnson. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Michael Corenblith. Costume Design by Daniel Orlandi. Film Editing by Robert Frazen.
The premise sounds promising as writer/director John Lee Hancock weaves his characters into a plot that slowly grows into something immense and horrifying: sent to Los Angeles on a routine pick-up of a piece of evidence for an upcoming case, county police officer Denzel Washington, his body paunchy and hips filled out to suggest that he’s past his better days, stumbles into a case tied to his past. Accompanying local detective Rami Malek to the scene of a grisly murder, Washington realizes that the crime is connected to an unsolved case of a serial killer that he never caught, a case so devastating that he had a heart attack, divorced his wife and scaled down his work duties. Another woman goes missing while jogging and the hunt is on for possibly the same culprit, and Washington takes vacation time from his day job to join Malek in tracking this guy down and putting the past to rest. The path of clues that they follow takes them to the doorstep of a socially awkward, unsettling repairman (Jared Leto in coloured contacts) who they become convinced is their man, so now they just have to fill in the blanks to prove what they suspect. Are they on the right track or are they just fingering Leto for the sake of their own desire to put the case to rest? Hancock wants to deliver a serial killer thriller with a twist, as the film becomes not about catching the bad guy but finding the bad guy in ourselves (ooh!) and the effect that bringing villains to justice has on our pure, heroic souls. A lofty and impressive goal, except that the dramatic interactions, focused mainly on Washington’s emotional spiral into his memories, is never particularly interesting and it eventually becomes clear that Malek’s character doesn’t have much to offer the story after getting the ball rolling (which is fitting since he’s never convincing as a cop anyway). If there is a takeaway it’s Leto, the shot of him entering frame for the first time is genuinely chilling, and he portrays a perfect pitch between crazy and cool with remarkable ease. His scenes are the only time that the film has any notable tension, but it’s not an original type of character for this genre, and the pretentious ending only further proves that Hancock doesn’t have the dense intelligence to match his ambition.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Jared Leto)
Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination: Best Supporting Male (Jared Leto)