Harrigan - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
STEPHEN Tompkinson delivers a compelling central performance in gritty ’70s cop drama Harrigan that almost, but not quite, papers over some of the film’s many flaws.
Written by former copper Arthur McKenzie and set in Newcastle’s kitchen sink estates during the rolling blackouts of the ’70s, this is a moody, dark and frequently bleak experience that wallows in its sense of mounting desperation.
Tompkinson plays the hard-as-nails Harrigan, a cop who returns to Newcastle following a stint in Hong Kong, to find local section houses closed, social decay run amok and control of the streets being wrestled from the police by gangs.
Flying in the face of advice from his inexperienced boss, Harrigan sets about cleaning things up in an old-school way, meeting the criminals head on and helping out where possible… driven as much by a sense of right and wrong as his own shortcomings as a father.
Directed by Vince Woods, Harrigan has a distinct visual style thanks to its moody lighting and general air of impending violence, and boasts a genuinely striking central performance from Tompkinson that showcases a more welcome tougher side to him than TV’s DCI Banks allows, which is also a million miles removed from his more congenial Sunday night persona (on shows like Wild At Heart).
The film is at its best when he holds the screen, imbuing Harrigan with traces of Gary Cooper in High Noon and the no-nonsense grit of Michael Caine in Get Carter.
Unfortunately, the film quite often struggles to maintain your attention whenever Tompkinson isn’t around, while the unrelentingly bleak tone becomes a little stifling and feels overdone. An Assault on Precinct 13-style finale also feels mis-placed and also underwhelms.
For Tompkinson, however, this could well have put down a significant marker for different kinds of roles in the future.
Running time: 96mins
UK Release Date: September 20, 2013