In the Line of Duty
In the sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, there’s a running joke about the gang making their own sequels to Lethal Weapon. The results are hilariously inept, poorly written and essentially poke fun at the ridiculousness of the genre’s tropes. In the Line of Duty, on the other hand, is just as absurd as the filmmaking skills of Denis and Mac, but is supposed to be taken with complete straight-faced seriousness.
Directed by Steven C Miller and written by Jeremy Drysdale, this action outing follows disgraced police officer Frank (Aron Eckhart) and budding internet reporter Ava (Courtney Eaton) on the hunt to find the police chief’s kidnapped daughter, who’s trapped in a glass box gradually filling with water. On paper, the mix of the buddy cop formula with elements of found footage and Saw-style trap could have made for an edge-of-your-seat, against the clock-style thriller. What we have instead, however, is something that’s fundamentally broken in its execution thanks to a misguided script and laughable action.
First of all, there’s the character of Frank himself. He’s the one-line spouting hero on a rogue mission, he’s charming, and – of course – he’s brooding over his past; in other words, he epitomises every stereotype of the action hero to such an unashamedly high level that it would be the perfect parody if it wasn’t played so with such sincerity. To his credit, Eckhart noticeably tries to make it work, and it would have within a more fitting tone.
Frank isn’t the only overdone archetype. There’s also the insane, vengeful villain with a death wish, the frustrated police chief tired of Frank’s reckless behaviour, and – by far the most egregious – millennial activist Clover (Jessica Lu) with her references to veganism and brainwashing corporations, and who talks in what can only be described as Twitter speak.
While fast-paced, the plot robs the mystery of any intrigue by having key pieces of information expounded to characters rather than letting them be discovered. Frequent leaps of logic and a seemingly indestructible smartphone are also hysterical additions in this supposedly gritty thriller. Even the action has no weight behind it, rendering the majority of the film dull and inconsequential.
As a spoof of the action genre, In the Line of Duty is hysterical. As a serious attempt, however, it fails spectacularly.
In the Line of Duty is released in select cinemas on 3rd January 2020.
Watch the trailer for In the Line of Duty here: