Wednesday, 8 October 2014

MCCANICK - Review By Greg Klymkiw - American crime pic w/great performance from David Morse on VVS Films Blu-Ray

Mean Philly Cop with a dark past and dim future.
McCanick (2013)
Dir. Josh C. Waller
Starring: David Morse, Cory Monteith, Ciarán Hinds, Mike Vogel

Review By Greg Klymkiw

David Morse is such a tremendous actor, one hopes against hope (it seems) that he's going to get a great role in a great feature film - one that, perhaps, lives up to his unbelievable work in the Sean Penn-directed duo The Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard. While he's dallied about on TV and delivered a great villainous turn in Disturbia, he always feels like the kind of actor who could have been a humungous star in any number of 70s existential male angst pictures. Luckily, his McCanick performance, in the starring title role, no less, is everything one could hope for from him. He's intense, brooding, dogged, tragic, tough-as-nails and super-manly as an alcoholic cop whose as good an unconventional lawman as he is a corrupt scumbag. It's to screenwriter Daniel Noah and director Josh C. Waller's credit that he's got a chance to do his thing. It's to their detriment, however, that they haven't given him a better picture to do his thing in, though in fairness, they do give it the old college try. Alas, they barely earn a passing grade for their efforts.

Eugene "Mack" McCanick (Morse) is a mean Philadelphia narcotics dick with a very dark past and an even dimmer future. His best friend Jerry Quinn (Ciarán Hinds) has worked his way up the ladder to police captain, his young partner Floyd (Mike Vogel) will be moving on to a promotion in homicide and to top it off, all hopes that his birthday can be relatively routine is scuttled by knowledge that Simon Weeks (the late Cory Monteith, star of Glee), a killer he put behind bars seven years ago. is now free due to good behaviour via the parole system. McCanick is seething with rage. Weeks was a nancy boy hustler who offed one of his regular johns, a powerful politician. Though Mack's pal Captain Quinn warns him to steer clear of Weeks, he dupes Floyd into accompanying him to track the killer down. A shootout ensues. Weeks escapes, but Mack buys some time since he manages to pop a major scumbag in the process. He needs to buy time. Mack has also shot Floyd by accident and his partner is rushed to the hospital on the verge of death. Pinning the shooting of Floyd on Weeks should all be in a day's work for the notoriously corrupt Mack, but convolutions rear their ugly head and things begin to spiral ever downwards.

This is all sounds reasonable, though there is a major plot hole that nags at you to the picture's detriment - the manner in which Mack dupes his partner in the first place is utterly improbable. Add to this a clumsy subplot involving Mack's strained relationship with both his ex-wife and adult son and a equally inept flashback structure that too-slowly divulges why Mack wants to nail Weeks who, for all intents and purposes has truly rehabilitated himself in prison and has made positive steps to turn his life around. The whole backstory and relationship between Mack and Weeks has compelling elements, but they too fall apart since a major surprise reveal is so poorly set-up that it too just feels highly improbable.

The movie has compelling location work, a suitably brooding 70s-style atmosphere and Morse working overtime to deliver a compelling performance, however, when the picture's not being stopped in its tracks by the clunky family subplot and the ineptly integrated flashbacks, its admirable attempts at imbuing a brave deliberate pace is also bollixed up because it gives us too much time to think about far too many of the narrative's improbabilities. This is all too bad since this is a picture that had the potential to cross over into classic cop drama territory, but keeps missing the mark because its key creatives have not worked hard enough to iron out the kinks in the narrative. The other crying shame is how good the late Cory Monteith is and what could/should have worked as an admirable swan song is relegated to the less-than-stellar classification of close, but no cigar.


McCanick is available on Blu-Ray and DVD via VVS Films. Its added value bonus features include a trailer, a lame behind-the-scenes featurette and a few minutes of deleted and extended scenes, but none of these boost the home entertainment package beyond the mediocrity of the film. There's a fair bit of general lip service paid in the behind-the-scenes doc to how good the script is, which it isn't, but possibly a commentary track with the director and/or writer might have provided insight into what their intentions were and how the exigencies of production might have contributed to the movie falling flat. That all said, the Blu-Ray picture looks great and the transfer at least does considerable service to capturing Martin Ahlgren's generally gritty and moody cinematography. Buy it from the links below: