Based on a true story about a wealthy oil man who’s greed and ambition becomes tested after a family member is held for ransom. I think this is Scott’s best film since Blade Runner (1982). I’m not quite sure why it’s taken so long, and certainly Scott’s made some decent films in the last 36 years, but this is the first time I’ve seen one that didn’t rely purely on grande spectable (Gladiator) or casting (Thelma&Louise, The Martian) to make it work. In the past he’s tried to recreate this but often the scripts were average or terrible (The Counselor, Body of Lies, American Gangster, Hannibal, Prometheus).
This time he’s lucked out with a genuinely great script, great cast and an intriguing story about family, the Mafia, money and power. It’s incredibly noirish and visually sumptuous film reminiscent of Chinatown and The Third Man. It seems like this is the story Cormac McCarthy should’ve written for The Counselor, instead of the glossy and pretentious trite that was delivered.
I was in serious doubt whether Scott could actually direct an interesting character driven film, but with the right material it seems like he can. Unlike The Counselor, there’s no bad dialogue or oblique characters pontificating. Each character has their own agenda and emotional investment in this high stakes kidnapping gone awry.
Interestingly, Kevin Spacey was digitally removed after his Hollywood scandal, and although there must’ve been reshoots with his replacement Christopher Plummer, it’s almost impossible to detect and I couldn’t imagine Spacey in the same role.