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Stark and Bleak Realism
on March 29, 2008
This is not an easy movie to watch - it is rife with tension and gore - but it is a thought-provoking one. With stark and bleak realism, it shows what can happen when criminals clash with other criminals, law-enforcers, crafty wild cards, and naive bystanders sucked into the criminal vortex. It shows what can happen when a relatively good man succumbs to the temptation to take an illegal route out of poverty, and, crafty though he is, finds himself up against a diabolically smart and ruthless sociopath - someone not likewise burdened by such distractions as a conscience or concern for loved ones. It shows how utterly cold a sociopath can be, and what a trail of destruction he can leave in his wake. Nothing is glossed here. The good guys are not better shots. Bodies do not conveniently disappear. Killings are not veiled or glorified or antiseptic, but graphic, tragic, and messy. Unlike so many action movies, this one does not lean on a punchy soundtrack or quick scene changes to heighten its impact. Rather, it moves in relative real time, and its quietness and its unblinking stare at events are quite dramatic enough. The ending is atypical, too - more of a whimper than a bang - and I think that to be disappointed by this is to miss the movie's point. In this movie, brutality is not depicted as rollicking entertainment, but as the messy, ugly, unfair, disgusting, and just plain depressing thing that it is.