Monday, 27 October 2014


I've got all the time in the world for Joel Edgerton, part of Animal Kingdom's stunning ensemble cast, co-writer of The Rover and surely about to go global as a blinged-up, eyeliner-wearing Rhamses in Ridley Scott's forthcoming Exodus: Gods And Kings. That's why I sought out Felony, despite it being a straight-to-DVD shelf-botherer in the UK over a year after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Edgerton wrote and stars in Felony, and I was keen to see what he might do with the tale of an honest cop turned rotten. Annoyingly, the answer is nothing at all: Felony is dull, unambitious and chronically disappointing for the hardcore of The Joel Edgerton Fan Club (current membership: one).

Competently but unspectacularly directed by Matthew Saville, Felony stars Edgerton as Mal Toohey, a cop who knocks a kid off his bike while driving drunk. For no compelling reason Mal lies about his involvement in the accident, gets senior detective Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson, pretty much the best thing on offer here) to cover his tracks and arouses the suspicions of Summer's protégé Jim Melic, played entirely without charisma by A Good Day To Die Hard's Jai Courtney.

For an hour or so Toohey wrestles tediously with his conscience while Melic ponderously digs around for the truth. The two barely share any scenes, rendering their obvious friction toothless, and Courtney is left to argue with Wilkinson in a sequence of painfully imbalanced displays of acting. There's a frustratingly unpursued hint of Toohey's moral compass beginning to spin out of control and a fairly standard point made about the indistinct nature of justice, but a series of late - and increasingly implausible - plot developments suggest that Edgerton found himself desperately trying to inject some oomph into his script.

2013's The Place Beyond The Pines took the honest-cop-forced-to-go-bad idea and squeezed more drama out of it in one act than Felony does in its entire running time, making it hard to recommend this to anyone but The Joel Edgerton Fan Club, and now they've all seen it. I'm not about to renounce my membership (I'm looking forward to Exodus: Gods And Kings too much), but Edgerton needs to seriously up his game before I stop referring to him as co-writer of The Rover and start calling him Owen Lars from the Star Wars prequels.

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