In The Line Of Duty is a new cop thriller, which is simply called “Line of Duty” in the US, but…. y’know, the famous BBC series?
This movie is certainly a world away from that, and cop Frank Penny (Midway‘s Aaron Eckhart, above) is so old-school that he still watches TV in his kitchen on a 4:3 CRT!
The premise is such that the cops have set up a sting to catch bad guy Max Keller (James Hutchison III), who doesn’t take the bait and runs off. Can he be caught? Given how cops have guns, my first thought was – why don’t they just shoot him? Well, therein lies the rest of the premise because Frank does exactly that before too long – after the man speaks the bizarre phrase, “Ask him how it feels to lose everything” – and as it turns out, a girl called Claudia has been kidnapped, and Frank’s just capped the only man who knows where she is… and she’s also the daughter of his colleague and former cop partner Volk (Giancarlo Esposito), and he never smiles – you know the kind of high-up growly cop.
Also on the trail is vloggers Ava (Courtney Eaton) and Clover (Jessica Lu), the former out on the streets with Frank (cue plot device), and the latter, back at base and turning up occasionally.
It’s around halfway through before Ben McKenzie (above) turns up as Dean, brother of Max, and he certainly makes his presence felt. Cue decent fights between Frank and both Max and Dean, quite a few jokes in the script, a film which nicely and interestingly mixes a cop drama with the Facebook Live generation, and we have quite an entertaining piece of nonsense, and a damn sight better than anything I’ve seen from director Steven C Miller before, who has previously given us under-ripe turkeys such as 2015’s Extraction (Bruce Willis) and the worst film I saw in all of 2018, Stallone in Escape Plan 2: Hades.
And while I’m mentioning Mr McKenzie, I highly recommend his excellent five-season TV cop drama Southland, when he was on the right side of the law, but even then, the lins were sometimes blurred as to whether the cops were as on-the-level as they should be. It’s one of those series that hardly anyone has seen, but you really should.
However, this movie isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Some of the dialogue is spoken in exasperated fashion, meaning you can’t make out every last thing that’s being said (and there were no subtitles on the review version I saw), every single vehicle being driven not have a registration plate, and there’s bad writing for Ava’s character as she’s a go-getter in her hobby/career, but then turns into a blubbering wreck just because she’s being shot at, and later, she’s back to being as hard as nails as her character initially seemed. Personality change, much?
Plus, while Frank Penny is as indestructable as John McClane, every other cop seems to have a death wish, only getting their weaponry out for show-and-tell rather than actually using them. One of the worst examples of this is a female cop who has a rifle, yet doesn’t even bother to fire off a round or three before she’s hit square in the chest at the same time as two other cops. And when confronted with a certain someone, instead of pleadign for her life, she’s all, “Every cop’s gonna be looking for you!“. Now, that is NOT the time for a conversation!
One important question, though – Jessica Lu is 34 years old, yet her character’s wearing ripped jeans? Act your age, love!
Another: How can anyone, who’s a newbie to sitting in a helicopter, not bother to strap themselves in? They’re happy to just casually lean inside it, whilst it banks and turns in any angle possible.
In The Line Of Duty is not a head-scratcher of a film. You know the good guys will win, and the bad guy will lose, so it’s just a matter of finding out when and how, and enjoying the daft action along the way.
Running time: 98 minutes
Release date: January 3rd 2020
Studio: Signature Entertainment
Director: Steven C Miller
Producers: Craig Chapman, Scott LaStaiti, Myles Nestel, Martin Sprock, Tiffany Stone, Renee Tab, Christopher Tuffin, Skip Williamson
Screenplay: Jeremy Drysdale
Music: The Newton Brothers
Frank Penny: Aaron Eckhart
Ava Brooks: Courtney Eaton
Dean Keller: Ben McKenzie
Clover: Jessica Lu
Volk: Giancarlo Esposito
Ruth Carter: Dina Meyer
Telescope: David Shae
Maya Prinz: Betsy Landin
Walter: Lindsey Garrett
Hendrix: Nickola Shreli
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.