Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 19th September, 2014
Time : 113 minutes
Director & Writer: Scott Frank (based on the novel by Lawrence Block); Music : Carlos Rafael Rivera
Starring : Liam Neeson, David Harbour, Adam David Thompson, Dan Stevens, Astro, Eric Nelsen, Razane Jammal, Laura Birn, Marielle Heller, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Natia Dune, Mark Consuelos, Sebastian Roche, Danielle Rose Russell
The film opens with a montage of a man touching a woman, brushing his hands through her blond hair, caressing her body. She’s moving about too, against a pristine white background. Its only at the end you realize she is gagged and bound. And everything isn’t what it seems. Gripping. Gritty. Needed a twist to be great but passes muster thanks to Liam Neeson doing what he does best.
Women are being kidnapped. Huge ransoms being asked and paid. However, the women are being returned dead. Cut up, in pieces. And since they’re related to drug dealers / traffickers, there are no cops involved. Which is why, Liam Neeson, a private investigator, ex-cop, gets involved…
Its slow, with a constant sense of menace through the film – not one of tragedy or depressive but more of nastiness, dread. Dan Stevens, who is the person who actually hires Liam, also has the same sense of being wound up too tight about him, a quiet, seething anger, a coiled cobra, just waiting to strike . He wants Liam to find the men who did it. And then walk away so he can dispense his own brand of justice.
There is a fascinating sub plot, involving Astro, a young black kid Liam befriends, who wants to be a detective. Both have their own tragic stories, both getting on with life, neither wanting the other to feel sorry for him…
You really have to compliment the supporting cast here – everyone fits perfectly including David Harbour, Adam Thompson, Sebastian Roche and Olafur Olafsson – who has a memorable end to his cameo. I also wish Hindi films learn from how the soundtrack works in movies like this – it stays in the background, just enhances the mood but doesn’t intrude or overpower.
I enjoy watching such films, slow, full of foreboding, as if carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a major twist in the end – felt the film was perfectly placed for one – but still works thanks to a tight script and a riveting lead performance.