This is the spoiler section of review—Beware!
I wanted to talk more about the film and decided to simply put up a spoiler warning.
Cummings does a good job showing a man out of sorts. The rage and alcoholic induced accidents are interesting, and oddly realistic. As with the main review, this film does a lot right, but also gets a lot wrong.
John’s competent counterpart Julia (Riki Lindhome) showcases everything he is not. She is balanced, calm, and appears to have a working brain. However, the film wants us to see John as such a moron we end up making everyone else look dumb.
The first suspect, found dead, is only a half mile from the first crime scene. The coroner says his child could have solved this—okay, but why didn’t Julia? There needed to be more of a reason why John was screwing everything up. Otherwise, it just seems like everyone is just as bad as he.
However, I liked the idea of the killer simply ODing and that being the end of it. John doesn’t get the credit and was too drunk to even be a part of it. With his father dead, it would have been fitting for him to be the only officer not present for a photo-op. Yet, we have to have another twist where it wasn’t actually this dude, but another dude who we don’t know.
The biggest failure of this movie is that it decides that John has been a shitty enough person to deserve redemption. One impassioned speech at AA should not substitute for actually making changes, but oh well. Alcoholism is treated as something with an on/off switch in most movies, so I guess I can’t be too hard on this one for that folly. However, I will be a dick about the fact that we still give John room to be a hero.
For reasons not discussed, John begins to suspect Paul (granted, Julia has figured this out and is on her way) and gets his chance to chase the bad guy. While it is true that Julia is the one who ends up saving the day it is complete crap the drunky mcdrunkerton would figure this out. We have to have our (male) hero though.
What does John learn from all of this? Not much it seems as the most “growth” we see from him is giving his daughter permission to let other men dominate her. You might say I’m being harsh here, but he gives her condoms, that’s it. No discussion of love, respect, consent, or anything like that. When the man refers to a removed vagina from a murder victim as becoming a “flesh light” I’m not seeing him giving condoms to a teenager as somehow super progressive, or impressive.
Be a shitty person and maternal figures will ultimately take care of you. However, we do learn from John that perhaps we should be nicer to our maternal figures, but we still probably need them.
I respect what this film was trying to do but it ultimately bungles the landing. We have fragile masculinity discussing toxic masculinity. Improvement? Maybe? Better yet, maybe write the story with a woman (gasp!) or perhaps even seek their input? I know I speak the impossible.
For all my criticism, I don’t think Cummings was malicious in his errors. Something went wrong here; maybe Covid, maybe something else. However, he has good ideas as a creator. Letting others in the process would help (I think). Despite my irritation with this one I would watch his next movie without hesitation. Hopefully, this is a sign of him still growing and experimenting as a creator.