After 20 years on the British police force, Detective Sergeant Johnson (Sean Connery) has seen too much: 20 years of murders, rapes and countless other violent crimes. One day while interrogating a snide, sarcastic suspect in a child molestation case, all of his pent up anger and hatred surfaces and Johnson loses control, killing the man. What had started out as a routine investigation has turned into a case of police brutality, and Johnson must now attempt to reconcile his own violent behaviour.
Superb + Overlooked British Psycho-Thriller
- The Offence review by PV
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You rated this film: 5
This film is a great find: not only does it have Sean Connery and Trevor Howard - (and bizarrely Peter Bowles in pre-To The Manor Born days), it also has a fine if a little theatrical and Pinter-esque script, and an interesting director in Sidney Lumet, and a piercing score by Harrison Birtwhistle....................
The first 10-15 minutes or more is almost completely free of dialogue, as the story seeps into the screen and it becomes obvious that a child killer is on the loose, after some baffling sequences that make sense later........... I loved the silence in this film, and the piercing sound design, aimed at making aural the troubled mind of the protagonist - but perhaps what most impressed me was the way a police thriller turned into a deep psychological thriller about the mental breakdown of the Connery character. This movies is SO much more interesting than most Hollywood police thrillers today. I'd compare it to Get Carter - but better, for me, anyway..........
Now the negatives:
My first criticism is that perhaps it is is sometimes a bit dated, 1972 still being infected with that tiresome sixties vibe - so we get too many odd sound and vision episodes (though some are OK)........ My second is that, especially when characters are shouting, they are hard to hear - not because of background music, as in films nowadays, but because of the less good microphones used back then: if I watched this again I would certainly use subtitles from the off (though the DVD menu design is rubbish so you'll have to search for the hard of hearing thing)......
But all in all: this film is great. A must-see. In my top 10 or even top 5 British thrillers. It's a film that I have never seen on TV and it's been sadly neglected, I think, for some unknown reason (maybe the child killer theme?)
The plot is simple enough. A very average detective who is not particularly sound in mind becomes tormented by a man he suspects of killing children and kills him while he is in custody. He is pretty foul to his wife who tries to help him. The rest is weirdness. Some is good weirdness, the opening is shot at sixteenth speed, this is pretty effective at suspending the tension. Some is just daft. You won't see Sean in a less heroic role.