Police officer Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton) has it all - a loving wife, beautiful children and a reputation for being an outstanding detective. But it only ever takes a single moment to change a life forever. One night following a successful drug bust, Toohey and his team hit a bar for drinks, he has cheated death and it requires celebrating. On the way home he knocks down a young boy severely injuring him. Toohey desperately fights to save the boys life until the ambulance arrives. Driven by fear he lies to the paramedics, claiming he found the boy on the road. But Toohey knows better than anyone where lies ultimately lead.
Coming from my home country of Australia comes the 2013 thriller film Felony. Written by Joel Edgerton - who has been doing some exemplary work of late both in-front and behind the camera - it delves right into the darker side of the police force, and how one decision can set in order a devastating chain of events.
The film follows Detective Malcolm Toohey (played by Edgerton), who is everything a detective should be. After spending the night drinking with his cop-buddies after a successful mission, Toohey accidentally runs down a young boy on his bicycle. He stops and calls the police, but claims he simply found the boy on the road, and that the driver must have fled the scene. From one lie comes another, and another, with more people getting drawn into the deception. Will Toohey ever come clean? Will the newcomer to the force follow in their footsteps? And will all be revealed and sinners brought to justice?
Being completely honest, I find the majority of world-famous Australian actors to be far from the best my country has to offer. There is a lot of talent currently untapped, and it is good to see them at work in this film. In addition to actually writing this film (his screenplay debut), Edgerton also stars as the lead - Detective Malcolm Toohey. His tight grasp of the genre is evident, and he does not let one area suffer for the other. Along with Edgerton is the British actor Tom Wilkinson, and the Australian Jai Courtney (who has been in films such as Die Hard 5, Divergent, and the new Terminator Genisys).
Cop thrillers are always popular with audiences (Cop Land, L.A. Confidential, and Training Day, to name a few), but they have been done so many times that it is hard to make them new and refreshing. Felony takes more of an emotional thriller route as opposed to lots of action with car-chases and gun fights. This might not be the most popular choice with the male audience members, but it might entice women to join their boyfriends and husbands without having to face gory scenes.
In terms of the technical aspects, I don’t have any complaints. However, it wasn’t particularly noteworthy either. But then again, sometimes that is the best thing.
Felony has received mostly positive reviews from online critics and audience members. The only complaints are that it sometimes slips into melodrama, and chooses to play on the emotion as opposed to delving into the terrifying idea of cops going bad.
I am very pleased to read that this film has been called “smart” and “sophisticated” by critics and reviewers. This is quite a compliment, and I love that the Australian film industry is stepping up to the international level. Please note, some have said that the Australian accents make it a bit hard for international viewers to understand, but it’s not impossible. All in all, I like this film and I think you will too.