Clint Eastwood directs this uneven thriller/message movie. When it focuses on the story of a corrupt police department, a missing child and a mother wrongly imprisoned, it’s effectively gripping. When it tries to explore character and motive, it falls flat, mostly because the characters are one-dimensional caricatures who are all either shockingly good or frightfully evil. The film is set in the 1920s, and the art directors make the classic mistake of having everything look like it’s brand-new, except in scenes where everything looks like it’s been left to rot for 40 years. Again, there’s no middle ground. Eastwood is not, generally, a deep thinker who understands subtle shades of gray. Rather, he brings his Dirty Harry persona to whatever job is at hand, and in this case, his bullets tear through the thriller genre, but bounce harmlessly off the drama. Reload, Dirty Harry, reload!


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