Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson has some issues going on. He’s up for a promotion and will get it if he can solve a murder case, and this is all that matters to him. To do this he pits his competition against each other through fidelity, rumors and false accusations. He copes with visions of dead people and animal-human hybrids with cocaine and alcohol. This promotion means everything to him, including getting his family back. Anything else is just a distraction.
At one point he passes a drug deal going on in plain sight and just walks on by. He looks at you and shrugs. It’s not worth his time. When a man passes out in public and Bruce has to help, he first curses to himself that he’s being inconvenienced. This film could have been titled “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Scotland Yard” and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. As the film progresses though, it becomes a bit clearer that out of all the people he’s lying to and manipulating, he’s manipulating and lying to himself the most.
Writer-Director Jon S. Baird’s film has some issues going on as well. Like it’s protagonist, it wanders aimlessly through a plot indecisive of what is reality. Rather than bringing us closer to Bruce’s bi-polar attacks of insanity, it actually proves rather distancing and disorienting in a way that doesn’t benefit the effect of the film. Both Baird and McAvoy are willing to go to extremes in this film, but McAvoy is the only one who seems to know why.
James McAvoy is fantastic here, and if there is more depraved and committed work from him please tell me. Each scene he fills his face with ferocity, goodness and depression – all constantly at war with each other under the haze of drugs and alcohol, and he communicates it wondrously. McAvoy does his best to shatter any good image you may have of him from Atonement and X-Men: First Class, and is hilariously successful. Even Jordan Belfort would be shocked at some of the stuff Bruce does in this film.
The 3rd act comes out of almost nowhere and will either make or break the film for most people. I honestly haven’t decided if it was good or not because of how insane it went. It’s like watching a batter hit a home run, but then as they’re crossing 2ndbase instead of continuing to 3rd they start running into left field, climb over the wall, make their way through everyone seated in that section and run out of the stadium: It is absolutely bonkers, but a sight to see nonetheless.