The introductory segment was presented as a reminder of a tragic event that changed the life of a police officer forever. He accepts dubious jobs, and in return receives gifts from his clients. Reluctantly, he agrees to investigate an intricate case. The wife of the drug dealer was brutally killed, even though the requested ransom was paid (truth be told, not in full). During a detailed investigation, Matt meets a minor homeless man. TJ is a bright, basically quite good guy, who becomes a private detective’s assistant. Traces of the investigation lead to two police officers-operatives in the fight against narcotics. Ray (David Harbor) and his partner Albert (Adam David Thompson) are a well-coordinated team and have no intention of ending a lucrative business…
Made in the manner of old-fashioned representatives of the genre, the film is full of an enviable amount of violence. The dark side of human nature is painted in a gloomy atmosphere where fear and despair reign, and the tension grows as we approach the case step by step. It is interesting that we have a well-balanced dynamic, although in general Scott Frank uses a narrative style at a slower pace. The focus is on the antihero being forced to think quickly and act in an environment where he can’t really trust and trust anyone. He never forgets the fact that he is dealing with human scum.
Employers have long been involved in crime by mobsters, and the target is police officers who bled their hands in a job that provides them with a comfortable life. Police uniforms serve as an ordinary façade, something that allows them not to answer to anyone for the crimes committed. It is evident that the boundaries between justice and crime are very thin, barely visible, until Matt recognizes a second chance that could bring him redemption and decide to punish the villains. The carefully structured story got its epilogue through occasionally frozen frames (the so-called freeze frame), which was accompanied by the narration of twelve steps that need to be taken on the path to rehabilitation. Very striking, which undoubtedly gives a recognizable touch to this old-school thriller.
Adequate acting support completes the positive impressions as a whole. Liam Neeson played his role masterfully, presenting us with a vulnerable and lonely man who is haunted by the demons of the past, eating away at his soul. I liked the performance that Boyd Holbrook also gave, as drug addict Peter Christo, a former soldier unable to adjust to normal life after returning from a battlefield where the Americans were forcing democracy with the help of brutal force. The psychological profile is authentically painted, especially since we find some points of contact with the former police officer.