You can see how this could happen.
A young woman grows up rough. Decides
to become a cop. Signs up for
the undercover work, because she believes she can be convincing as someone
who has stepped over to the other side.
And she is convincing. So
much so that she convinces herself, to take just a little piece of the
action. She convinces her
partner, too. Chris (Sebastian
Stan) has fallen in love with her, and he's going to do this for her.
They carefully rehearse how they're going to go through with the
armed robbery, then take their cut and stash it.
Go back to police work, pretend everything's normal, and when all
the furor quiets down, resign. Take
the money and run. Just this
one time, be on the other side of all the constant struggle.
Just one time.
Nicole Kidman plays the part of Detective Erin Bell like she owns
it. Just like Detective Bell
owns the whole sorry back story. Things
went south in that heist. Chris
was killed. The gang broke up.
She made it back to safety, and returns to the job, but she was
never the same. Call it PTSD.
Call it a lot of guilt, but she didn't have time to wallow in the
remorse. She was pregnant with
Chris' child. Shelby (Jade
Pettyjohn) is sixteen now, but headed down the wrong path.
Though she's been living with Bell's ex, Ethan (Scoot McNairy),
Shelby's Stepdad, he can't keep tabs on her, either.
She's skipping school and clubbing with a thug, Jay (Beau Knapp).
You can tell Shelby enjoys being the rebellious child, and having a
passive aggressive kind of control over her mother that day.
And Detective Bell recognizes all the signs.
She did the same thing.
She comes on like one of those stayed-out-too-late and
didn't-freshen-up-this morning kind of tough gals.
A little bit of hitch to her step.
The 1,000-yeard stare. The
washed-out don't-mess-with-me attitude.
And nobody does. Not
even her partner, who seems to be a nice guy, which is why he doesn't
understand. The past has come
back to haunt Erin Bell. The
leader of the old gang has emerged, and sent her a tainted bill sprayed
with dye, just to let her know that he knows where she is.
Detective Bell has to do this dirty street work on her own.
She finds one of the old gang members, then finds out where the
money's being funneled, then finds the same old girlfriend, now a druggie
who resents being discarded for a younger version.
But Erin Bell pays a price for all of it, just as she paid a price
when she made her fateful decision all those years ago to play with fire.
This is a gritty movie. Nobody's
happy. The language is
atrocious, as you might expect. What
passes for a sex scene is just sad and desultory.
It's violent and it runs roughshod over genteel sensibilities.
But Nicole Kidman's performance is hauntingly memorable.
And it deserves to be recognized.