An action-packed film about human imperfection, weaknesses and secrets that our subconscious mind keeps.
An attractive man leads an informative excursion into the world of painting, talks about the intricacies of the work of an auction house employee. In a daring robbery, he follows instructions and attempts to place Goya’s “Flight of the Witches” in a special vault. The robber takes away the case with the priceless canvas, and Simon Newton, played by James McAvoy, violates the important thesis: “No work of art is worth a human life.” He rushes at the criminal and receives a crushing blow, after which he loses consciousness. The cunning plan of the masterpiece hunters seems to be flawless – after the tear gas was sprayed, panic began, strong guards were blocked in the van, and the ringleader freely takes out the case with the creation of the famous artist. The astonishment of the criminals was great when they saw the empty stretcher.
The auctioneer is hospitalized with a serious injury. After being discharged, he found that the house was destroyed, and the leader of the group, Frank (Vincent Cassel), called him for a conversation. The young man turns out to be an accomplice of the robbers, he is tortured to find out where he hid the painting. Simon has amnesia, and the crime boss offers to restore the chain of events under hypnosis.
A greedy auctioneer comes to see a hypnotist. Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) notices that the client is not completely honest, sees traces of violence and a listening device. She insists on a meeting with the mafia, and wants to be taken in a share. The jewelry process begins with the return of memories. Newton is put into a trance, but he is unable to open the package containing the memory fragments. A frank conversation took place between Liz and a difficult patient, he confesses to gambling addiction, because of which he was in a debt hole. Reese (Wahab Sheikh) set him up with Frank. Dr. Lamb puts all the gangsters into prostration, and Nate (Danny Sapani) is psychologically affected.
A new hypnosis session yields results, revealing that Simon cut out the canvas and hid it under his clothes. He ran down the street, feeling his phone vibrate, and was hit by a red car. The consciousness of the swindler is confused, he sees Lamb in the driver’s seat. Elizabeth conducts research and reveals the manic dependence of a man on her. They go on a date.
An emotional conversation between Kassel’s character and the hypnotist ends in bed. Newton enters the apartment to the object of desire and arranges a scene of jealousy. The Doctor seduces an ardent suitor. She plunges Simon into a trance, and he, in an imaginary reality, cracks down on a criminal gang and reports that the “Witches” are hidden in the scarlet Alfa Romeo.
The woman rushes to get the masterpiece, but the gang intercepts her. Frank shows an unloaded revolver stolen from his house and convinces Newton of Elizabeth’s perfidy. Simon agrees to lead the gangsters to the painting. During a hot kiss, the hypnotist passes the cartridges to the lover. The villains try to rape Dawson’s heroine, but Simon kills them. Together with the defenseless leader, they go after the missing rarity.
The trio took the car and Liz told the horrifying truth. They met Newton several years ago. He wanted to recover from gambling addiction and came to the session. An affair broke out and the man became obsessed, was rude and raised his hand. The woman made her forget herself and at the same time inspired the idea that he should steal a work of art for her. A strong blow to the head caused a “failure”, the distraught character of McAvoy strangled a stranger, whom he mistook for his beloved. The canvas and the corpse of the unfortunate lie in the trunk. Simon leaves Lamb’s stolen treasure. The madman sets fire to the car and Frank cannot get out. Elizabeth finds a tow truck, knocks Simon to death, and pushes the burning trap into the water.
The surviving villain receives a package. Together with the recorded video from the avenger, he receives a tempting offer – to erase the memories of the insidious mistress. The man is unable to decide.
The meaning of the film
The work of director Danny Boyle reflects a wide range of human vices: greed, cruelty, jealousy, anger, hypocrisy, lust. McAvoy’s hero is a suggestible nature, he lends himself well to hypnosis. He is easily subjugated by excitement, and just as quickly he becomes a hostage of passion. Bandits are united by a thirst for profit, and Liz is passionate about revenge.
The final phrase uttered by the heroine: “Do you want to remember or do you want to forget?” provides new food for thought. Often we are faced with a difficult choice – to erase gloomy shots from the past, to cross out people who brought misfortune, to free ourselves from remorse or recover from illness, suffer, come to terms and draw far-reaching conclusions.
Elizabeth’s words reveal the guiding principle of the characters, their guide to action: “To be yourself, you need to constantly think about yourself.” Selfishness and pride, and in the case of the auctioneer also infantilism, pushed the trinity to crime.
Characteristics of heroes
Simon is a young man with an open look and a disarming smile. An extremely controversial personality, he has numerous masks, and the images are complex and unexpected. At the first appearance on the screen, the charismatic handsome man is an erudite esthete with rational ideas about life. Then he becomes a brave man who protects the legendary creation. The following transformations turn out to be saturated: a victim of amnesia and scoundrels, an experimental rabbit of a mercantile person, a deceived lover. But if you dig deeper, the essence of the character changes radically – he is a vicious frivolous player, a psychopath and a jealous man. The final reincarnation is shocking – a ruthless killer, devoid of doubt and remorse, not wanting to be responsible for his actions.
Elizabeth is a fatal lady with a bewitching voice. She has an undoubted talent, she easily influences the representatives of the strong half of humanity. The ostentatious greedy interest is a screen, it is driven by the desire to punish the offender. The situation gets out of control, but even in the most difficult moments, the puppeteer does not lose his composure. She is prudent and cold-blooded, but cannot resist the sudden outbreak of sympathy for the villain. The intriguer saves Frank, and sends a farewell video letter for a reason. If the lover does not erase the memory, perhaps Liz will again be in his arms.
Frank is the main mafia, tough, determined and self-serving. He will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants. The man is fascinated by Lamb’s natural magnetism, calmness and extraordinary mind. He experiences not only passion, sparks of a real feeling are born in his soul. The criminal hesitates and does not dare to make a choice – to get rid of thoughts about the cunning beauty or to keep the memory, hoping for a continuation.
A fast-paced psychological thriller or a movie with an over-the-top plot?
Danny Boyle’s Detective is a bright, thoughtful, smartly twisted film. The film was adorned with brilliant acting. Characters change disguises one after another, transforming from innocent sheep into bloodthirsty predators. Each image is convincing and evokes a whole range of feelings – from pity and sympathy to contempt and disgust.
The thriller is replete with spicy and violent scenes, but the shock is that content is needed to increase the emotional degree, and not as a “cheap” way to attract an audience. The visuals are also impressive: colorful locations, play with light, abundant use of reflections and mirrors, strong close-ups. Composer Rick Smith’s superb soundtracks are a necessary touch that enhances and sometimes sets the right mood for both individual episodes and the entire film.
Among the shortcomings, fans of intricate tapes note the illogicality of the characters and the loaded script. A captivating detective slips into drama, and personal tragedies take the lead. Understanding their motives is as difficult as understanding which fragments extracted from Simon’s mind are real, and which are the fruit of a sick imagination.
The open ending can be considered a highlight, and it’s pretty easy to guess the hero’s intention. He never faced the question “whether I am a trembling creature or have the right”, Frank acts on the prerogative of the strong, not burdened with moral principles. The fragile woman who outplayed him will become a coveted trophy. A wounded man will not want to forget and put up with defeat.