Robert Pattinson burns up the screen in this fierce, fast-moving thriller from NYC filmmaking siblings Josh and Benny Safdie.
This eyes-open-to-the-world NYC crime thriller from filmmaking brothers Benny and Josh Safdie (Heaven Knows What) is cocky, grubby and electric. It features Robert Pattinson at the top of his game as Connie, a schemer who we first meet extracting his mentally challenged brother Nick (Benny Safdie) from a therapy session so they can spend the morning robbing a bank. Connie is violent and dangerous, but he’s also quick-witted and charismatic, so he’s teasingly fun and rewarding company—for us at least. You end up wondering what’s better for his brother: the cold reason of an institution or the wild but nourishing company of a sibling.
Once the bank job goes south, the film stays on the move, running, punching, tumbling and stumbling over 24 hours as the fallout drags us through streets, vehicles, homes, jail, a hospital, a theme park and more. Racing through the gutter of the city, it's all shot in a scuzzy, real-world style, although the cinematography (by Sean Price Williams) also runs with a theme of neon and scarlet. Bathing some scenes in brothel-red isn’t the only thing here that nods to early Martin Scorsese—check out Pattinson walking down the street hunched like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, for one. The movie also boasts a terrific, throbbing electronic score by Daniel Lopatin, a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never.
Pattinson is great in what is surely his best post-Twilight performance to date. He’s coarse, yet he also lends the character a glint in the eye and a spark in the brain—he’s always more than just bad. The Safdies are show-off filmmakers for sure, and this is a directing tour de force. But what makes the film more than just a hugely enjoyable thriller is that it so clearly has its eyes on the world around it. That’s best expressed in the depth of the supporting characters we meet en route, introducing swift but rewarding appearances from, among others, Jennifer Jason Leigh as a damaged friend of Connie, and Barkhad Abdi as a security guard. This is brutal at times, but it’s also wildly exciting.
Cast and crew
Jennifer Jason Leigh