Thursday, 27 September 2018

Dark Crimes ★★☆☆☆

Jim Carrey is a phenomenal actor. I know, it’s a bold claim. This is the guy that plays Ace Ventura and The Mask, for goodness sake. But given the right role, he’s truly up there with the greats. In The Truman Show, he showed us this hidden talent and in the years since, he has still remained in his safe-zone of comedy but occasionally delivered something more. While his finest performance is, and always will be, as Andy Kaufman in the late Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon, when he puts his mind to it, he can still reach that quality of performance – even if the film around it is pretty pants.

Dark Crimes, from director Alexandros Avranas, is a tepid pile of cliché-stuffed shit with very little to recommend – except for Carrey. Tadek is a tortured detective who takes on a case involving the murder of a businessman. To his and everyone's surprise the case is identical to a character's murder in a recently published novel by a man named Kozlov (Marton Csokas). While the crime appears to be an open and shut case, Tadek discovers a darker secret and uncovers a conspiracy that will shake his world. Fascinatingly, the film is based on a true story – adapted from an article in The New Yorker entitled True Crime: A Postmodern Murder Mystery by journalist David Grann, based upon the story of convicted murderer Krystian Bala. 

This is a truly shocking story that deserves a documentary mini-series on Netflix – to rush through it in an amateurish 92 minutes is a criminal waste of some of the most hauntingly interesting subject matter a filmmaker could ever ask for. 

Looking at the very brief positive, Jim Carrey delivers a committed performance as the dark minded ‘hero’ of the story, reminding us that there is some power left in the guy after a very quiet and tragic period in the actor’s life. While it’s never going to stand among his finest work – unfortunately, the character is nothing we haven’t seen before and Carrey isn’t given anything particularly interesting in the role to sink his teeth into – it’s certainly better than a lot of his output. If nothing more, hopefully it will serve as the beginning of a comeback. Carrey’s upcoming comedy-drama television series ‘Kidding’ from Michael Gondry looks to be a true return to form for Carrey as he reunites with the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – but until then, Dark Crimes certainly reintroduces us to the talented actor and reminds us what he is capable of.

But beyond Carrey’s performance, there is nothing here to recommend. Not one thing. Even with such a fascinating true story to adapt, writer Jeremy Brock (co-writer of The Last King of Scotland) struggles to make the characters remotely interesting, or make the case as engrossing as it should be. What we’re left with is a cookie-cutter thriller that wants to be David Fincher but can barely even hit the quality of an ITV drama. 

So, should you watch it? If you have the time and think Jim Carrey is just a comedy actor, give it a look – you’ll be amazed just how good he can be in a dark role. But if you’re interested in true crime, there are so many alternatives out there that are astronomically better than this disappointingly underwhelming piece of work.

Sam Love

Dark Crimes at CeX

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