The plot line involving Billy’s relationship with his girlfriend, Natalie (Natalie Martinez) had promise, but she inexplicably dropped out of sight halfway through the movie. Yes, they had a fight (not really a spoiler since what couple doesn’t?) but the situation is never resolved, and after one bad night Mr. Tough Guy Taggart grimly goes about his task apparently unaffected by the crisis with the woman he supposedly loved. Why bother wasting all that screen time on Natalie if she wasn’t going to contribute to character development?

On the whole, the story is a solid political crime drama, one of those twisty-turny plots that zips along fast enough to keep your attention from wandering. The writing is occasionally brilliant—I especially liked the police commissioner’s final comment to the mayor, a quiet zinger that had the audience whooping with laughter. And yet, the sum of its parts is more OK than extraordinary. While it was enjoyable enough, the whole thing had a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ feel. It’s…fine. Not great. Not awful. Just fine.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Someone is drinking in almost every scene, generally Scotch. One character has been sober for seven years, but falls off the wagon (hard) and the ensuing scene chronicles his descent into drunkenness quite nicely.
  • Language/Profanity: Language is a big reason this film was rated R; a charitable person would call the dialogue “colorful.” Almost every conversation included the f-word. God’s name was taken in vain in various combinations, bi***, sh** (occasionally described as “holy”), a**hole, references to male and female anatomy (di**, pu**y). In addition, one character manages to insult pretty much every major group: women, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, metrosexuals, possibly a few more.
  • Violence: Quite a bit, but remarkably little blood. Shootings, murders, multiple violent fist fights, car chases and crashes, breaking and entering, man’s head shoved underwater, and a particularly vicious blow to the head that may have been fatal.
  • Sex/Nudity: Billy is a private investigator working divorce cases, so we see him photograph a couple having sex; kissing and caressing are shown. Discussion of a brutal rape and murder (thankfully not depicted). The characters go to a movie which contains a pretty explicit sex scene that includes female nudity. One character uses the term “borderline orgasmic” (but not about sex). There is talk of an extramarital affair. Man gets in bathtub, but nothing untoward is shown. Several major characters are homosexual; one obviously effeminate. References to “taking the metrosexual thing too far” and a romantic relationship between two men.
  • Spiritual Themes: The underlying theme is what happens when people take justice into their own hands, even when they feel right is on their side. Power corrupts and in this case, it corrupts absolutely. Guilt, revenge, and confession are all part of the plot. In the end, the question is whether Billy will do the right thing, no matter the cost to himself. (The answer to that question would be a spoiler, so you won’t find it here.)

Publication date: January 18, 2013