Irish mob stories have been the source of countless motion pictures for there’s nothing like a gritty gangster flick to get the adrenaline flowing.
A crime thriller that’s a joy to watch, at the heart of this film is Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), a Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man once known as ‘The Gravedigger’ who has seen better days. The longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past—as well as a dogged police detective (Vincent D’Onofrio) who’s been one step behind him for 30 years. Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass, but when his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), becomes a mob target, he’s forced to face off with his former mob boss in order to protect his son.
At 1 hr. 54 minutes in length, the film never threatens to outstay its welcome. The events take place within a 24-hour period as a split-second event triggers the life-and-death chase to stay alive. The action is plentiful with a subway chase, a dramatic car chase, a shoot out and a manhunt that takes place in a massive multi-level complex. The performances are richly conceived, the editing is sharp, the tension is taut and the violence sudden and foul.
There are moments in the film that are absolutely chilling - as when Ed Harris, who wanted to be at arm's length from the crimes committed for his profit - finds that he has to personally kill someone he loves.
With several A-list actors in leading roles, there’s no reason to fault any of the acting. Liam and Ed each command a powerful presence, and together they really ratchet up both the drama and the action, but it’s Common’s frightening performance that achieves standout prominence. He makes his presence known as a violent assassin as he relentlessly pursues Mike and Jimmy.
A testosterone-fueled thriller directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (“Nonstop”) the film is a satisfying action-drama that revolves around gangsters and bent coppers. This bleak tale of retribution, regrets and redemption may not stray too far from familiar territory but it’s engaging and well worth the theater ticket price.
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