By John Delia, Jr.
During the 1950’s, being a private investigator wasn’t always a safe and sure way to make a living. But it was a popular way to make some cash for returning soldiers or ex-police officers. During these times things were beginning to modernize, and the world was becoming more dependent on advancement in the skyline. With these changes, corruption and deceit became more evident, and private investigators became more popular. When Frank Minna’s (Bruce Willis) agency gets a chance to make some real money, things begin to get ugly fast. In his crew there is Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), an orphan with Tourette’s syndrome that Frank took under his wing when Lionel was 13; they have been friends ever since. Then there is Tony Vermonte (Bobby Cannavale), Gilbert Coney (Ethan Suplee), and Danny Fantl (Dallas Roberts). Frank has known these guys for many years and trusts them with helping to investigate the cases for his company.
When a job goes awry, the team has to discover what went wrong and how far this assignment will actually take them. Lionel takes the initiative and starts on this case that will bring him among the very powerful and the group these power hungry men want to take down. Following the breadcrumbs brings Lionel in many directions, but it all somehow centers on Laura.
Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin), housing authority and member of the city council, has been changing the city to prepare it for the future. He has been accomplishing it by any means necessary, and this includes forcing people out of their homes. On the other side of the spectrum, Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), working for advocate and political leader Gabby Horowitz (Cherry Jones), has been doing whatever she can to try to save these homes for the residents, but somehow she is in the middle of a war that is about to begin, and her life is in danger.
Director and writer Edward Norton does a fantastic job of recreating the noir-style crime-detective films of the 50’s and 60’s. He tells this story with complete authenticity and keeps the theme of the older style films. However, Norton creates a unique atmosphere that adds real disabilities into the mix. Edward’s portrayal of Lionel is remarkable, and he pulls off his character’s disability very well throughout the motion picture.
If you are a true crime-detective story lover, this film is for you. It pulls you into the story and pulls you in all different directions until its final conclusion that will not disappoint.
Final Comment: I based my grade on the excellent storyline, fantastic recreation of the 1950’s style crime-detective films, and the superb acting. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film, as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for youngsters.