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


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