(Videos from Deep at Sea, captures from Mr.
I suppose Russell Crowe may no longer be on the A-list, but if he is, he joins
the long list of A-listers whose latest releases have gone straight-to-vid this
year. That list includes Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas (twice), Liam Neeson
and Tommy Lee Jones. If you want to extend the list to former A-listers, you can
add Val Kilmer.
Actually, it's a trend I like. It makes my daily tasks a lot easier when I can
watch a serious film starring a talented guy like Crowe or Freeman instead of
the cheapjack genre films that often populate my in-box just because they
include some bare flesh. And Crowe is genuinely talented. He may be a very difficult man,
as per his reputation, but nobody ever said he couldn't act.
He does a good job here in a quiet role as a semi-retired police detective who is
determined to see that a released killer does not kill again. The story is
adapted from a typically dark Robert Cormier novel. The basic premise
is that the detective once succeeded in getting the sociopath convicted and imprisoned, but the courts
eventually released the young man for two reasons: (1) he was a minor when he
murdered his parents; (2) experts testified that his behavior was prompted by a
over-medication which his parents forced upon him.
The detective is conflicted. While he has no desire to hurt the kid, he
knows that society is in danger, and he wants to make sure the kid can't do any
more harm. The detective ultimately hits upon a perfect, if utterly cynical, plan to see that the
kid is sent back to prison. A young suicidal runaway attaches herself to the
killer. The cop finds the two of them together and essentially makes no effort to send the
back to her parents or to place her on a suicide watch in protective custody. He
reasons that she's going to kill herself eventually anyway, but some good can
come of her death if she stays with the sociopath. Eventually
either the killer will give in to his instincts and kill the girl, in which case
he can be convicted as an adult and returned to prison, or she will kill
herself, in which case the kid can be framed for her murder and returned to
It's a film that's made for discussions in English class. The detective dooms
the girl by using her for bait, and he is willing to send the kid back to prison for a crime he
was either forced into or did not commit at all.
The cop's actions seem very wrong on the surface. Yet the girl wanted to kill
herself, and the kid needed to be in jail because he really was a killer. After
all, the reason why we have jails in the first place is to keep guys like him
away from the rest of us.
Did the detective do the right thing or not? Discuss.
I liked the way the story was presented with moral ambiguity, and there are
a few interesting plot twists as well, but the film just plods along too slowly.
At one point I looked down at the timer on my DVD player and it revealed that I
was 52 minutes into the movie, but not one blessed thing had happened. The
entire first hour of the film survives solely on the dramatic tension created
by what might happen, and some things that almost happen. While the plot
does finally advance at the tail end of the film, that movement is a long time in coming.
If you grow impatient waiting for the plot to unravel, you'll be pulling your
hair out waiting for the nudity. I was cursing because the film was just about
over, with everything resolved, and there had been no nudity at all. I was sure
I had wasted my time. Crowe was doing the voice-over that seems to summarize and
wrap-up every detective movie, and it was obvious that the credits were about to
roll. The visual presentation which accompanied Crowe's obligatory world-weary
narration consisted of Crowe tending to his wife, who was in a coma.
And then he took off her clothes and gave her a bath, basically just as the
ending credits began. That was the sum total of the film's nudity: T&A from a quick
sponge bath of a character in a coma, a character virtually unrelated to the storyline. Specifically,
a character played by Tanya Clarke.