Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Grace Moretz
Running Time: 100 mins
The phrase ‘inspired by true events’ can be somewhat misleading, films such as THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012) and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (2005) have both begun with this proclamation – it’s hard to believe either actually were – and TEXAS KILLING FIELDS is another to use this moniker as it charts the story of Brian (Dean Morgan) and Mike (Worthington) on the trail of a killer in Texas City – and a bit beyond.
It’s fair to say the crime genre has been ruthlessly massacred (pun intended) by Hollywood for many years; it’s difficult to be surprised by anything nowadays and TEXAS KILLING FIELDS fails along with so many others. We open with a murder in the fields, the call-out, and from here we follow Brian and Mike as they seek the killer and try to restore order to Texas City; at least, Brian does, Mike seems more interested in chewing scenery and shouting lots.
On display are all the classic cliches: good cop, bad cop, the loose cannon cop, eccentric cop who lives with his dog, and of course the ex-wife (Chastain) with whom he’s forced to work. Added to the fold is a delinquent child (Moretz) onto whom Detective Brian latches and tries to help. Reading this you’ve probably come up with the outcome to these scenarios and this is TEXAS KILLING FIELDS’ main problem; there is nothing inherently wrong with the film, and it is merely a victim of over-population. You can throw a ring around 100 films released in the last year and 20 would follow a similar set-up to this. So what does it do to stand out? Well on the plus side we get some good performances: Dean Morgan is quietly effective as the good cop and Jessica Chastain – never one to let a poor script or lack of screen time hold her back – is as usual the best thing on-screen. But on the negative side, you have Sam Worthington (acting repertoire = heavy breathing, gruff vocals and shouting) who is such a mind-numbingly dull screen presence it’s hard to care what happens to him or consequently the rest of the characters. And there’s Chloe Grace Moretz who, like Chastain, is criminally under-used, and given her obvious prominence should really have been given more involvement. It’s biggest problem of all though is its formulaic plot that plunders wearily to its predictable finally.
There is very little – past Worthington – to dislike about TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, but there is nothing to make it standout from the crowd and because of this is tough to recommend even on a week bereft of big releases.