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July 11, 2014

Movie Review: McCanick (2013)

Directed by Josh C. Waller

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Featuring the final film role of Cory Monteith, the star of TV’s “Glee” before he died of a heroin and alcohol overdose at the far too young age of 31 in 2013, the cop melodrama McCanick received scathing reviews when first released. This reviewer walked into the film totally unprepared and was highly entertained. While a “bad” film in many respects – trashy and sensational, a bit simplistic, McCanick has quite a few aces up its sleeve.

We’ve all had disappointing birthdays, but chances were that they were a lot better than McCanick’s (David Morse), a crusty Philadelphia policeman. He’s set on having dinner with his estranged son that evening when he learns that Simon Weeks (Monteith), a penny-ante drug dealer and hustler who he fingered in connection with a politician's murder has been recently released from prison. Taking his young, rookie policeman partner Floyd Intrator (Mike Vogel) on a stakeout to nail Weeks, they pull up to an upstairs ghetto drug party -- when it suddenly becomes apparent to Intrator that McCanick has told him a big, fat lie. The situation deteriorates, and McCanick mistakenly shoots Intrator directly in the chest. Intrator is rushed to the hospital clinging to life, and McCanick then tells his superiors an even BIGGER lie: he says that Weeks did it!

In a series of flashbacks, we are shown the almost fatherly relationship McCanick had with Weeks before Weeks was sent up the river. Over the course of the day, McCanick tells even bigger lies and more innocent people are injured and killed. An awful lot of this film’s success relies on the many surprises doled out along the way. The reason behind McCanick’s pursuit of Weeks is finally revealed – and in a way, makes perfect sense.

The word is overly used – but McCanick is very “subversive” on many levels. Sold as a macho action policeman picture, the character of McCanick is one of the most unorthodox cops since the French Connection’s Popeye Doyle, who is reference directly by an exasperated, would-be victim of the lead. We’ve all seen the gruff, no-nonsense policeman of the movies who breaks rules to get things done. McCanick’s M.O. doesn’t resemble the workings of a cold, calculated brain as it does a man in the throes of a nervous breakdown. The film is alternately frightening and hilarious. McCanick more closely resembles a psycho slasher flick where the audience fears – and looks forward to what appalling thing the befuddled, falling-to-pieces hero will do next.    

Most of the positive reviews this film has received is due to Monteith’s performance, who ably portrays an on-the-margins guy who is the equal of McCanick’s “ethically challenged” cop. Concerning the circumstances surrounding Monteith’s death, maybe art imitated life – or vice versa.

The DVD and Blu-Ray also features the film’s trailer, as well as a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and over 15 minutes of deleted and extended scenes. All in all, McCanick thoroughly entertained this reviewer – intentionally, or otherwise.

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