Originally published on So So Gay on 16 November 2014.
After making a successful drug bust and surviving a shoot-out with a criminal, police officer Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton) rightly goes celebrating with his colleagues. After a heavy drinking session, Toohey makes a decision that ends up threatening his near perfect life and enviable career. Choosing to drive the short journey home, he tragically hits a young boy en route. As professional help arrives, Toohey finds himself the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. Due to fear and a sense of self-preservation, he lies about the true course of events, starting off a snowballing set of lies. Sensing something is amiss, rookie officer Jim Melic (Jai Courtney) starts to pick holes in Toohey’s story, much to the dismay of his partner, Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson).
Much like our protagonist, the film is a brooding package that has a polished finesse to it, thanks to Matthew Saville’s direction. It would be easy to presume Felony is an action-driven, Hollywood-style blockbuster done on a modest budget; however, the film is actually a slow-burning psychological thriller, making it a far more interesting prospect. Written by and starring Edgerton, it focuses more on the human crisis that happens when one has a fatal lapse in judgment.
There are a couple of threads within the film that would have benefited from a little further exploration. Some extra time given to embellishing Toohey’s home and work life, not to mention a little more flesh added to the fairly one-dimensional character of Ankhila Sarduka (Sarah Roberts) – the mother of the boy Toohey hit, who has a strange and entirely pointlessly relationship with Jim – would have helped add some depth and colour to the plot. Felony also suffers from a slightly underwhelming conclusion, but nevertheless its net impact is a good one.
Edgerton does as an excellent job of carrying and bringing his own story to life, and is more than ably supported. The ever reliable Melissa George makes the most of the comparatively small role of Toohey’s wife, but in many ways this film belongs to Wilkinson. As the cantankerous senior officer, Carl, who clashes with Courtney’s ‘white knight’ Jim, he brings a vividness to his character as well as an extra level of gravitas to the film as a whole.
It may not be perfect and sort of feels more like you’re binge-watching a mini-series rather than a movie, but Felony is a great effort from Edgerton who wisely put together a talented cast and crew to bring his creation to life.