After getting himself shot (and surviving) during a drug bust, detective Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton, who also wrote the script) is a hero. Which is lucky, because after a night spent in boozy celebration he drives home, sideswipes a kid on a bike, and leaves him in a coma. It’s the kind of thing that costs cops – even hero ones – their badge; fortunately for him, Detective Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson) is handy and more than willing to put together a cover-up that will keep him out of trouble. The only problem is that Carl’s police partner Jim (Jai Courtney) doesn’t buy it, and starts digging deeper, locking the three of them in a struggle that’s clearly not going to end well.
Director Matthew Saville hasn’t directed a feature since 2007’s Noise but he’s kept his hand in with a lot of television work (he’s currently directing Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me), and he gives the script a polished, efficient veneer. The trio of leads are all first-rate as three very different men: Jim is the young gun who’s all business, Toohey is the one slowly fraying at the edges from what he’s done (and his inability to confess to it) and Summer is the old-hand doing what he thinks needs to be done.
If this film has a flaw – and generally speaking it’s the kind of solid, competent drama Australia could do with a lot more of – it’s that the “what would you do” moral quandary never really engages. It’s meant to be a world where everyone is doing what they think is right, but generally speaking, drunk driving and putting a kid into a coma is something you probably should try to avoid doing.
It’s a story where, for once, a more black-and-white approach wouldn’t have hurt: treating this in shades of grey occasionally feels a little too much like artificially over-complicating a fairly straightforward situation.