Bastards on the Run
Chadwick Boseman, who one imagines now insists on being called Black Panther during sex, stars in this gritty, sometimes nasty pared down thriller, about a cop on the hunt for a couple of plod-killing thieves, who flee to Manhattan and become trapped there with their haul of cocaine, after a bloody gunfight with the NYPD.
Boseman, who’s Dad was a cop who died in the line of duty at the hands of drug dealers, has developed a reputation for offing those who put bullets in his badge-carrying brethren. But even he begins to smell a rat when the precinct who’ve assigned him to the chase are a little too supportive of the idea that he should gun down the perps in cold blood.
The story’s told over a few hours, allowing director Brian Kirk to tell it in a pacey, grungy fashion, with downtown Philadelphia standing in for early hours New York – all sleazy nightclubs, smoke filled alleyways and dingy industrial areas. Atmosphere and intensity are the watchwords here. Slick and effective location work, bolstered by an almost hysterical but enjoyably overwrought Henry Jackman score, is coupled with long, in your face close ups of Boseman and his supporting cast, including febrile stooges, Stephan James and box-office bombmaker, Taylor Kitsch.
The plot may be boilerplate, and the movie’s casting revealing – the discovery of a conspiracy immediately pointing to conspicuous co-star J.K. Simmons, who wouldn’t be cast if he didn’t have a bigger part to play, but the movie has enough propulsive action and tension built into its chase scenario to elevate it from schedule filler to compelling entertainment.
Overall it’s a tight package, which will please Boseman’s fans, that has a few interesting notes in the margin on the temptation for overworked and underpaid police officers in a difficult city being tempted to collude with organised crime for their own safety and security. That attention grabbing undercurrent inevitably gets squeezed, given the film’s compressed timeline, but it nevertheless adds spice to what otherwise might have been a routine police procedural.