First off, this movie demands your attention, both physically and emotionally. For 2 hours and 10 minutes you are entering a very dramatic world of police corruption centered around a single multi-generational family. The story on the face of it, doesn’t deserve this amount of time, but it does whip by at an alarming pace.
So what is the setup?
Well, we have 2 brothers, a brother in-law married to the aforementioned brothers sister and of course the father who no one dares cross. To be honest, it wasn’t terribly clear they weren’t all blood brothers at first, but as the movie gain paced it became clear, otherwise we had a serious case of incest going on which wouldn’t have added anything to the story!
Colin Farrell plays Jimmy (the brother in-law) who does what needs to be done to get the job done. This isn’t a case of stepping up to the line, or even occasionally stepping over it. No, the line is so far behind him, it is merely a distance memory.
Noah Emmerich plays the oldest brother, Francis, who interestingly enough is also the precinct commander to which Jimmy belongs. Francis knows not everything is necessary by-the-book, but since Jimmy is getting the results, there is no need to ask too many questions.
Then we have, little brother Ray, played by Edward Norton. Ray has had a previous operation go bad, literally wearing the scar of that one on his face, but upholds the ethical and moral code that they all swore to.
Jon Voight plays the uncorruptible patriarch, the elder statesman who has been all his life in the police force, has risen to be the top management. As he said, the only money he ever took in his life was the cheque cut by the state for his salary.
So that is the setup. All is fine until 4 cops in Francis’s precinct are gunned down. The father suspects something at play and asks, nay pleads, with Ray to do the investigation to see what is going on.
I am not going to spoil any of the plot, because this movie should not be ruined, but you will see one of the best performances each of these great actors have to offer.
Farrell, while Irish to his core, puts on one of the most convincing Boston accents I have heard, announcing certain words to really hit home his character. Norton, is top notch as usual. The real stand out actor for me, is Jon Voight. He commands the screen as the authoritative figure that is unapproachable with his dedication and faith to the police. He is conflicted. He wants his boys to fix this while maintaining the good name of the family, but is ashamed his boys are even involved in this corruption.
Keep an eye out for a particularly harrowing scene with a baby and an iron – Farrell at his best as the psycho officer trying to put right before it all blows up around them all.
The movie isn’t without its problems though. There is a rather cliche scene when Ray and Jimmy confront one another and of course have to have a bare knuckled fight in a bar. Jimmy’s wife, the boys sister, is as stereotypical a police wife as you can have.
The movie has had a long road getting to the silver screen. Writer and director,
Gavin O’Connor, whose father was a NYPD officer wrote this story as a homage to him. The story was ready and it was scheduled for shooting in February 2002, with Hugh Jackman and Mark Wahlberg. Then 9/11 hit and it was felt a movie about corrupt NYPD officers wasn’t going to play terribly well in the public conscious. It then sat for a long time, and was finally made in 2006 with the current cast.
However, the movie sat again for 2 years after completion, before being released with no real reason. There was a rumor that because of Norton’s Incredible Hulk, and Farrell’s In Bruges releases, that it wasn’t the right time.
Finally released in October of 2008, it made $31M against a budget of $30M. Not a runaway success financially.
The movie is a wonderful retelling of what is a well trodden road in the Hollywood world of corrupt police officers. While the story line will be familiar, how these 3 legends step up and deliver the goods is what makes these movie stand above the others.
But give it your full attention.
Friday, 4th September