BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Matthew Saville
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Melissa George, Tom Wilkinson, Jai Courtney, Sarah Roberts
Written by and starring Joel Edgerton (The Thing), Felony is a film that delves into issues of morality and asks questions over whether ‘doing the right thing’ is always best. Edgerton plays Malcolm Toohey, a detective who has just made a big arrest and goes out to celebrate with his colleagues. After spending all night drinking Toohey drives his car home in the early hours and gets pulled over by the police but, armed with the police’s secret password, is let off and continues to drive home, clipping a young boy riding his bike and knocking him to the ground where he lies unconscious with head injuries. However, concerned about his position and reputation Toohey calls an ambulance but shifts the blame onto a mysterious hit-and-run motorist.
But when fellow detectives Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson – Batman Begins) and Jim Melic (Jai Courtney – A Good Day to Die Hard) get caught up in the aftermath things take a dramatic turn when Melic isn’t so sure of Toohey’s story and reports his concerns to Summer, who is a friend of Toohey’s, and that’s when decisions have to be made and certain moral ethics have to be brought into question…
What strikes you most about Felony is that everything is underplayed, from the way that certain character’s reactions are muted to the fact that there is very little in the way of a score or any other dramatic cues. In some ways this is a good thing as it adds a bit of realism to the way the events play out – how often do you hear music playing in the background when you hear bad news? – and gives the film a grounding that, as a viewer, you can relate to. On the other hand, there are moments when a little bit more oomph is needed to add some flair as certain reactive situations play out as very flat.
But that is no reflection on the performances of the actors as Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson and Jai Courtney all manage to keep things on the right level and make the three main characters believable. The only real weakness in that department is Melissa George (The Amityville Horror) as Toohey’s wife Julie, who gets little to do apart from cry and look miserable – a fault of the writing more than her performance because it’s what she does in most of her films and she has it pretty much nailed – and she adds very little to driving the plot along.
And the plot is a very good one as Joel Edgerton has worked out a story that will keep you intrigued as all the characters try to carry on their lives knowing what they know and with events chainging all the time. None of them are bad guys per se but there are questions raised over how they get the results they want and although the film does start to meander a bit in the final act with some unnecessary sub-plots involving the detective’s other cases and Jim Melic’s intentions towards another character, the end result is a satisfactory, albeit predictable, one that wraps things up nicely for the characters on-screen in the only way it could, making Felony a very good crime drama that stops just short of being excellent by being a little too bloated and wayward towards the end. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting movie that shows the depths that someone would go to to cover up the truth.
UK Release Date: 27th October 2014