So hellbent on being tough and gritty, it doesn’t realize how ridiculous it presents. Dirty cops, ex-vets, drug addicts, hard asses, double dealers, all on the mean streets of Atlanta. When these men commiserate, well, shit gets real, and words like “family” and “brother” and “trust” are bandied about. Because, “Out here, there is no good and there is no bad. To survive out here, you’ve got to out monster the monster. Can you do that?”
Add a hilarious Kate Winslet as a Russian mobster with hair from Married to the Mob, a lazy crazy Woody Harrelson phoning in his standard quirky drunk cop with a nose for the perps, a cheezy industrial score, a bunch of young actors testing out their hard stares (Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus), and a boring end that I suppose was meant to be anti-climactic, and you get this poser of a crime flick.
Plot-wise, the entire caper rests on having an innocent cop shot in the darkest and dankest housing project so his dirty cop partner can call in a “999”, whereupon, at least in Atlanta, every cop in the city’s 3300 square miles drives like a bat out of hell to the scene, and thus, we have a diversion, so other dirty cops can steal a case for the Russians that just happens to be housed in the Atlanta office of the Department of Homeland Security.
This idiocy is made even more noticeable because when the “999” is called in, indeed, every cop lights out for the scene, Woody Harrelson leads the charge and almost kills dozens of civilians in the process in what is meant to be a bravura car chase scene. But it is not a chase scene. It is a race to get to a destination, a race made dumber by the fact that Harrelson is screaming at his partner “Do you know who was shot?” (Affleck was on scene and he is Harrelson’s kin). And for what? When Harrelson gets to the locale, there are already dozens of cops on the scene drinking coffee and showing vacation pics to each other, and Affleck looks relaxed, like he just had a backrub from Atlanta’s newest Tactical Massage Unit. And why didn’t Harrelson’s partner call any of the dozens of cops on scene to ask who was shot?
Also, why do these jamokes actually have to kill an innocent cop instead of shooting some rounds and getting on the radio and just saying “999”? Then, when every cop bugs out for the location, the dirty cop can just say, “My bad. I thought he was shot.” Hell, have the cholo in the housing projects who was contracted by the dirty cops to shoot the innocent cop and instigate the “999” just bonk the innocent cop on the head, shoot a round in the air, and then the dirty cop can call on his radio, “Hey, 999”, as the cop is, technically, down. Or just have a shootout and get on the radio and have the cops screaming, “we are getting shot up in here.” Will all of the cops in Atlanta just keep playing Candy Crush because they didn’t hear “999” but instead , “Shots fired. At me!!!!”
And what is with this stupid “999”, anyway? Is “999” the equivalent of “Candyman” and if you say that word three times in a mirror, cops jump in their cars and go berserk like bees to the queen?
Besides, Homeland Security ended up having its own SWAT team, who, apparently, were taking a collective bath when the caper began.
And of all the cops to shoot, why choose Affleck, who has previously demonstrated he’s bad-ass in a gunfight?
Not only is Affleck bad-ass, he’s also the Sherlock Holmes of the A.T.L. He cracks the case because he checks the wallet of the cholo contracted to shoot him and Ay Caramba! It has the address and time of the shooting (8th and Washington, 4 pm). What is it with Latino gang members and a) their inability to remember a few easy things and b) their predilection for semi-cursive? Affleck then goes to the dead cholo’s neighborhood and asks the first Latino kid he sees what’s what, and wouldn’t you know, that kid just gives it out like candy.
Director John Hillcoats’ The Proposition and Lawless were similarly moody and slow, but I don’t recall them being stupid. That distinction must be laid at the feet of first time writer Matt Cook.