I approached watching this film with a little reserve, because of the main actor – Orlando Bloom, whom I honestly do not prefer and I really thought that the role of his life was Legolas in LOTR and that he could do nothing more. Either way, I ended up getting two surprises – a surprise at how much I liked this dark crime thriller and a surprisingly good acting by Orlando Bloom. It is important to mention that if you want to watch a movie, it is not a bad idea to find out about the terms apartheid or racial segregation, because some things will be much clearer to you.
After an effective introductory scene to which I will return later, the plot of the film “returns” to 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa. We see a black man in his mature 40s exercising on a treadmill. He is Ali Sokhela (Forest Whitaker), the head of the murder investigation department of the South African police in Cape Town. The detective who works closest to him is Brian Epkin (Orlando Bloom), a troubled and divorced man who has become estranged from his son and who is increasingly drowning in the alcohol he combines with pills. The two get the murder case of a young 18-year-old girl from a higher class, but the investigation becomes complicated, their colleague is brutally killed in front of their eyes, the two find a connection to the drug trade, and Ali and Brian’s life gets a new, more dangerous course. which may not have such an easy solution, and no way out.
The film was directed by a little-known French director who previously excelled in both directing and screenwriting. Some of the films that bear his stamp are: Duplicity, The Tourist, Largo Winch. Honestly, I looked at the ones listed and I can only say – lukewarm and not impressive enough. That’s why he fixed things with this film. Indeed, everything in the film is composed properly, it is interesting enough, dark enough, tense enough, historically well-grounded enough, well-arranged characters. It was shot entirely in Cape Town, a lot of South African actors star in the film and a lot is spoken in the local language for the sake of better credibility of the film.
The introductory scene itself is brilliantly done, although it is a bit brutal because we see a black man burning alive and a black boy watching it all and then running away from someone. The plot is immediately transferred from that 1978 to the present time, to the present Cape Town, and the rest of the film explains that initial scene and its connection with everything in the plot. The project is based on the book of the same name by a certain French writer Carril Ferry.
My impression after watching the film was strong, positively strong, but I must also mention a few little things that bothered me. First on the list is definitely the ending, which could have been done much better, I have a feeling that it is not compatible with the whole film, that it is fast-paced and confused. Then I was bothered by the scene with the moment “I’m against everyone” in the style of Stephen Seagal, but somehow I came to terms with it and it did not spoil my complete impression, but I still had to mention the flaws, to justify the assessment.
I said earlier that Orlando Bloom surprised me very positively. I haven’t seen him in such a serious role before and he has all the praise, he did great. Maybe his character is a cliché in some way, but he is very interestingly arranged with his personal demons. Forest Whitaker is, as always, excellent in the role of a mysterious, but fair police officer with childhood traumas that left an indelible mark on his life. The rest of the cast is relatively unknown to a wider audience and is made up of South African actors, but they have done their part of the job more than well.
This dark and serious thriller actually represents the image of the Republic of South Africa, and not only those countries, but many who have been under various regimes and who feel the consequences that cannot so easily disappear overnight and be forgotten. There is one sentence in the course of the film, in fact a dialogue between Ali and one of the supporting actresses of the film, which says something like this – What to do with people who have served totalitarian regimes and who have been amnestied? Do you seek revenge and spread new hatred with a lot of new victims or forgive no matter how painful it is and try to forget? She replies: No revenge, justice. Justice is often very slow, and sometimes unattainable, but we still have to believe that it is still possible and this film, in essence, carries that message.