❉ Aaron Eckhart gives a heroic lead performance in this highly entertaining cop-actioner, writes Nick Clement.
“Boasting a hurtling, real-time concept from screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale (Grand Theft Parsons), slick and gritty direction courtesy of action-specialist Steven C. Miller (Escape Plan 2: Hades, First Kill, Arsenal, Marauders), and a very committed and physically robust lead performance from Aaron Eckhart…”
The over-the-top and highly entertaining cop-actioner In The Line of Duty is exactly the sort of unpretentious, B-movie product that will undoubtedly please genre fans to no end. Boasting a hurtling, real-time concept from screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale (Grand Theft Parsons), slick and gritty direction courtesy of action-specialist Steven C. Miller (Escape Plan 2: Hades, First Kill, Arsenal, Marauders), and a very committed and physically robust lead performance from Aaron Eckhart, this independently-financed thriller moves at such a break-neck speed that it’s pointless to try and scrutinise anything that’s unfolding before your eyes. It’s got a plot that’s totally “only-in-the-movies,” but because of the conviction from everyone on board, from the smallest of bit-players to the strong supporting cast to the sharp production team, the whole package nicely comes together.
Eckhart stars as a disgraced cop who teams-up with a live-streaming news vlogger (Courtney Eaton) to try and save the kidnapped daughter of the Birmingham, Alabama police chief (a sneering and sweating Giancarlo Esposito). The frenetic scenario is amped up to the next level when it’s discovered that the kidnapped girl is set to drown in an isolation chamber, with a one hour digital timer countdown shown via web-links.
Ben McKenzie shows up in a helluva entrance scene as a lethal baddie, and there’s enough twists and turns (some implausible, others inspired) in Drysdale’s propulsive screenplay to keep the picture moving and engaging. Miller, who has become a very prolific helmer in this lower-budgeted space, keeps up the directorial pace, never allowing his film to pause for too long, with the original score by The Newton Brothers helping to set a very energetic mood and atmosphere.
Nearly the entire 98 minute running time consists of foot or car chases, shoot-outs, and hand-to-hand combat, all of it shot and cut for maximum visceral impact by lenser Brandon Cox and editor Stan Selfas, with Eckhart carrying the entire picture on his heroic shoulders. There’s a fantastic, done-for-real car-roll with some choice, inside-the-car POV shots, and in general, the refreshing lack of CGI-theatrics that accompany the action set-pieces remind you of the good old days of shattered sugar-glass, splintered balsa-wood, and fire-ball explosions.
Eckhart sells the material like a pro and it’s interesting to note just how fascinating a career this versatile actor has had over the years, going back and forth between supporting and leading roles in studio fare and smaller efforts, with his work in The Dark Knight and In the Company of Men still standing as two of his top performances. In a film like In The Line of Duty, he gets his chance for maximum ownage of a motion picture, and he runs with it big-time.
❉ Signature Entertainment presents ‘In the Line of Duty’ in UK Cinemas and on Digital HD 3 January 2020. BBFC Cert 15. Director: Steven C. Miller. Cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Giancarlo Esposito, Dina Meyer. Run time: 99m. #InTheLineOfDuty @
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema and is a regular contributor to We Are Cult.. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.