My husband and I both sat riveted to the screen, for the 130 minutes of raw action, that this film delivered. In fact, we were still discussing it the next day. Our conclusion is, that after seeing almost every 'good cop, bad cop' film available, this ranks among our top five. I'm really surprised at the 1 and 2 star reviews.
Yes, this theme has been overused, but it was the acting that made this production stand apart. It was superb! You can't help but become enmeshed with this Irish family of cops, spanning generations, who find themselves with colliding ethics. Their intense love and respect for one another is palpable and quite sad. Even when doing 'the right thing,' when confronting someone you love---particularly family, the feelings of betrayal are overwhelming and this was so well drawn out with these amazing characters.
Edward Norton's portrayal of the NYPD Detective (Ray) attempting to redeem himself for misuse of power previously, is gritty and intense. But, he's a damaged man; his behavior could be unpredictable. You can't wait to see him facing unimaginable choices on his road to redemption. One of his best roles, to date, IMHO.
Colin Farrell (Jimmy) did not disappoint as the very, very, bad boy, brother-in- law. He does bad, SOOOO well!
Police Commander, Noah Emmerich (Francis Jr.), tugs at your heart, as the older brother of Norton. He is facing the loss of his wife to cancer, while having to confront issues within himself of turning a blind eye to some of the behaviors of 'his boys,' allowing things to spiral out of control. How far have his professional ethics been tested?
John Voigt (Francis Sr.), the Patriarch of the family and a strong defender for maintaining the honor of the force, at all costs, was wonderful. It was good to see him with a piece of challenging work, for a change.
Be prepared that this film is quite violent, raw and played out on the streets of darkness, and despair. The violence and language is authentic, for those demanding realism, but not for those overly sensitive to such themes.
A word of advice. You need to pay close attention to this movie. There are many characters to keep up with, all with stories of their own. My only complaint was that the characters really had to be allowed to develop for a bit before I could keep them and their stories straight. But, it does begin to all come together, so be patient and give it a chance. You might just like it, too.