Paddy Slattery’s feature length directorial debut is a fast-paced, well-structured thriller that you should definitely see while it is still in cinemas!
Title: Broken Law
Director: Paddy Slattery
Genre: Action, Thriller, Violent.
Main Cast: Tristan Heanue, Graham Earley, John Connors, Gemma Leah Devereux, Ryan Lincoln.
Runtime: 85 mins
MDb rating: 6.6/10.
My rating: 7.5/10.
Quick summary: Overworked and underpaid, Dave Connolly is a local hero unwittingly caught in the crosshairs of Wallace when he foils the crazed gangster’s robbery of a local credit union. Now he must protect his troubled brother, his new love interest and himself while finding out some home truths about his father’s legacy.
This Irish thriller is your classic story of a seemingly good man wrestling with his loyalty and his morals. Dave Connolly (Tristan Heanue) must decide between covering for his ex-convict brother Joe (Graham Earley), or turning him in when he foils a bank robbery. Joe has got himself caught up with menacing local gangster Wallace (John Connors) and his sidekick Pete (Ryan Lincoln). Following the failed robbery, Wallace smells a rat. Suspicious of Joe, his Garda brother Dave and Dave’s new girlfriend, Amia (Gemma-Leah Devereux), he sets out to exact revenge and get his money back.
This is a very well-told story. There are a few parts where the dialogue seems to be taken straight from an 80’s one-liner special starring Shwarzenegger and co., and a few scenes where the film takes itself more seriously than I thought possible, but overall it is consistent and gripping. We understand Dave’s frustration with his underpaying job and rising rents and admire his ability to not be swayed by temptation in the form of bribery. We also see his brother Joe’s struggles with staying away from the criminal world on his release from prison. The characters feel real and we understand their motives and decision-making. That, for me, makes the difference between a good film and a bad one.
The performances from the main actors are believable and strong. Tristan Heanue and Graham Earley, despite having completely different accents, are convincing as estranged brothers on opposite sides of the law. They share a fantastic scene where Dave (Heanue), comes home from work and still in his Garda uniform starts smoking weed with Joe (Earley). The two share jokes and banter back and forth until Dave pulls a whitey and his younger but more street wise brother helps him through it.
John Connors is unbelievably menacing as the small-time gangster Wallace. Wallace may have been guilty of a few of the one-liners that I was speaking about earlier but his presence on screen is undeniable. He is an imposing figure. He is also a great actor, using his comic timing to offset the malicious look in his eye, fooling the audience into thinking that he is anything other than a cold-blooded killer.
Gemma-Leah Devereux is brilliant as the damsel in distress. It is a bit unfortunate that her character didn’t have more of an active role in the movie. During the closing stages of the film it would have been enoyable to see her character, Amia, do something to thwart Wallace’s plans, but alas, Dave is the hero of the movie and of the day.
At its core, this movie has an important message about being content with the person you are and not the person you think you should be. We follow Amia, Dave and Joe as they struggle to be content with their current station in life, working humdrum jobs that barely get them by. They are all worried about what other people think about them. We get nice conclusions for Dave and Amia at the end of the movie but we don’t get a clear one for Joe. I am not sure whether we will be getting a sequel to this that explores Joe’s relationship with his family and the law further, so this may have been an oversight on the director’s part.
Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. As with all Irish gangster films, or any Irish films in general that are set in Dublin, the mind immediately wanders to Love/Hate, one of Ireland’s best ever television shows. If you can clear your mind and try not to compare it to the gangster show, you will enjoy this flick as much as I did.