One-note BBC-adapted cop drama starring Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham and Brian Cox
Brothers Joe (Paul Bettany) and Chrissie (Stephen Graham) are two cops tasked with helping solve a particularly gruesome crime in their seaside hometown. When they track down a likely-looking suspect (a suitably creepy Ben Crompton), they’re inspired by their now-retired hardline cop father (Brian Cox) to bring about justice on their own terms – but can they avoid the attention of fellow copper Robert (Mark Strong)?
Director Nick Murphy brings real class to this adaptation of BBC Three series Conviction, sticking to a downbeat, silvery-grey colour scheme without resorting to grim-up-north cliches. Sadly he’s not given much else to do by Bill Gallagher’s relentlessly one-note screenplay, with its procession of alternately moody and outright aggressive scenes (there’s one bemusingly po-faced encounter set against the backdrop of a tango class). The script also leaves a generally capable cast high and dry: Strong’s isolated ‘lone wolf’ persona may benefit from having murkier motivations, but lead man Bettany fails to convince in under-written interactions with his wife and daughter. This being a British cop drama headlined by four men, there’s also a noticeable dearth of strong female parts, although Zoë Tapper (as Chrissie’s squeeze Jemma) makes a decent fist of what she’s given.
There are other minor issues that niggle too: why are crime scenes left so open to public interference? Who is looking after Cox’s Alzheimers’-stricken cop? And why isn’t that disused cinema locked? These petty misdemeanours wouldn’t count so much against a better film, but with this film’s prior convictions, it’s hard not to hold it in contempt.
On limited release from Fri 31 May. DVD release from Mon 10 Jun.