In condensing the original mini-series into a conventional, two-hour package, scriptwriters William Monahan and Andrew Bovell have sadly sacrificed some of the original’s cultural specificity and its slow-burn quality. Moreover, in relocating from northern England to the US’s Eastern Seaboard, they have jettisoned much of the chilling atmospherics. Craven, the widowed police officer whose engineer daughter (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned down on a home visit, is now one of Boston PD’s finest; and if it’s true that Gibson, in the role, recalls the earnest intensity and investigative zeal of Bob Peck’s original performance, he also brings a lot of unwanted ‘Lethal Weapon’-era manic mannerisms to the part.
It’s basically a ‘little guy against the system’ movie, literally so in many of Campbell’s framings – for instance, where he miniaturises Gibson’s now slightly wizened figure against the looming bulk of Danny Huston’s smarmy corporate bad guy. However, Ray Winstone, as a boozy high-level fixer in pointed contrast to Craven’s ginger-ale-drinking sobriety, does offer good value in what is otherwise a surprisingly low-wattage and anonymously directed thriller.