Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Jade Pettyjohn, Toby Kebbel
Director Kusama’s dour crime drama has its moments, as well as a typically committed performance from Nicole Kidman, but is uneven and pretentious. We first encounter LAPD detective Erin Bell as she wanders uninvited at the scene of a murder her colleagues are managing – it may take audiences without prior knowledge a while to recognize this shambling, whispering, derelict figure as Kidman. Three red welts on the victim convinces Erin that Silas, a criminal cult leader she had investigated while undercover, has returned. The story flashes back seventeen years to show how she, along with fellow officer Chris (Stan) managed to infiltrate Silas’s gang. The present day scenes depict Erin’s joyless existence: her non-relationship with her deadbeat ex-husband (McNairy) and her sixteen-year-old daughter Shelby (Pettyjohn) who despises her. The film features a couple of decent set pieces, particularly one in which Erin, while undercover, takes part in a bank raid, but the script’s doomy determinism becomes wearing over an extended running time, while scenes such as the one where Erin wanks off a lowlife for information feels more funny than a fearless plumbing of the depths of depravity. And Toby Kebbell’s Silas is set up so portentously that he can’t help but be an anti-climax in the flesh.