Director: Ami Canaan Mann
Writer: Don Ferrarone
Stars: Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chloë Grace Moretz
Motion Picture Rating: 15
Running Time: 105 minutes
I am a very big Michael Mann fan, to the point that I try and see his films on the first day of their cinema release, and all that he does in cinema interests me. With this film Texas Killing Fields he is the producer of his daughter’s first feature. Besides dad as producer, Ami Canaan Mann has the great Bonnie Timmermann casting this film and unsurprisingly she has benefitted.
The lead actors are Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and both perform admirably as partnered detectives in the southern bayous of Texas. My actress of the year in 2011 Jessica Chastain also shows up well as a third detective and there are strong supporting roles from the prolific Chloe Grace Moretz and Englishman Stephen Graham. So far so good with what is described as a ‘thrilling crime drama’. Also, the south Texas serial killer storyline is inspired by true events upping the ante still further.
Unfortunately, there is more wrong than right here. It is a compact film and moves along quickly, but the result is a lack of continuity and a poorly managed set of seen before storylines. Dean Morgan carries the guilt of past failures as well as a religious vigour in his obsessive pursuit of the killer whilst Worthington struggles as the local boy turned detective. As with the (private) detective played by Casey Affleck in Gone Baby Gone, a much better film, he is uncomfortable patrolling his seedy and left-behind neighbourhood.
As with Gone Bay Gone this film shines a light on an underclass of Americans on the periphery of society and their ‘story’ is a dark one. Here it involves runaways, rednecks and teenage prostitution. The film, many secondary characters and the skies are menacing throughout. Another film that came to my mind is Zodiac with Dean Morgan’s obsession and with the serial killer eventually taunting the detectives. That is another better film than this, but Texas Killing Fields is not without merit.