Viewed – 13 July 2012 Blu-ray
Woody Harrelson isn’t one of those actors that normally guarantee box office glory. He’s always been a bit sidelined and often appears in more indie or cult movies than mainstream Hollywood. Yet here he unusually takes top-billing. He’s one of my favourite actors, even if he never seems to be in much I’d want to see. Thankfully this isn’t one of those movies.
He plays Dave Brown, a cop who lives by his own rules and deals out his own brand of justice, even if it means beating a man half to death on CCTV and attracting a lot of bad press and the interest of his superiors. Juggling his commitment to the job and that of a dysfunctional family who increasingly want to see the back of him … Dave spends his time either doing shady deals with shady people, talking his way out of being forced into retirement, or sleeping around with any woman who offers even a passing interest. His life is gradually falling apart.
This may not be entirely cheery stuff, but with a very strong performance from Harrelson who manages to make a very unlikable character sympathetic, and with good support from Sigourney Weaver, Ned Beatty and Robin Wright – this was a gritty but believable drama that left me with plenty to think about and admire. The intelligent direction from Oren Moverman is part fly on a wall documentary, part art house movie with lots of eye-catching, experimental camera work and perfectly chosen moody music. It reminded me of the excellent Nicholas Cage drama Leaving Las Vegas, although not as bleak. And that’s quite a compliment in my book.
Verdict: 4 /5