The Felony Review – Solid Drama from First Time Screenwriter Joel Edgerton and Director Matthew Saville

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“The Felony,” from Gravitas Ventures and Roadshow Films, presents a contemporary police drama filled with choice, compromises, action and reaction all building to a dramatic conclusion as three detectives find themselves embroiled in deepening conspiracy.


Directed by Matthew Saville, “The Felony” stars Tom Wilkinson, Joel Edgerton and Jai Courtney, with Melissa George and Sarah Roberts and was written by Edgerton.

“The Felony” opens as two worlds are on a collision course, a well known, decorated detective Malcolm Toohey with the Sydney police, played by Edgerton, is in the middle of a drug bust, Aussie style. As he and his unit are pounding the door, chasing the criminal through a warehouse, the buildup leading to the takedown lays the foundation of Toohey’s dedication and loyalty to the profession.

Soon our detectives are being toasted by the inspector on a job well done. The war stories and shots are flowing freely and the camaraderie is binding. As the newcomer to the unit, Toohey is at the top of his game, respected by all, well liked and an asset to the unit.

Cutting to the next scene an early morning wakeup call Detective Jim Melic played by Jai Courtney, arrives to pick up the Detective Carl Summer, played by Tom Wilkinson and as we find out the 5:00am honking of the horn is not the way to impress the new boss or alert him that his chariot doth await.

Summer explains to the fresh detective “that if he honks the horn one more time, his wife is going to shoot him, it’s a bloody chain reaction the horn wakes the dog the dog wakes the grandkid, the grandkid wakes the wife” not the impression a young newbie detective want to make.

Summer and Melic are on stakeout as they have surrounded a pedophile accused of abducting a child from a local park, and are using trickery, allowed under the law everywhere, to gather what they believe is the sealing evidence, the final nail in the casket of this degenerate who should, if the judicial system holds, never see the light of day again.

Our moment of collision comes early in the film, Toohey, does something most can relate to and after a night, into the wee hours of the morning, free flowing shots, a day of high adrenaline, he decides to drive himself home.

No, fortunately he doesn’t leave the scene of the accident as this action, of course, leads to the equal or greater reaction. What follows plays out as Summer and Melic show up on the scene and Toohey, still high on yesterday’s glory, continues to receive the compliments from the major drug bust, seemingly oblivious to the scene.

Complicated by his own personal level of integrity and honesty with each compromise he becomes what he hates and it shows.

The back story in “The Felony” are two very bad cases, a pedophile makes bail after diligent effort to keep him behind bars and drug smugglers using the Chinese laundry and in the middle of all this personal drama arising from a single very costly bad decision.

Written by Edgerton, “The Felony” is tactically driven and not a complicated plot. The scenes are clearly flushed out and represent a real world, contemporary, situation.

The audience will be able to quickly follow the plot and possibly line up the same decisions, the same contemplations, as action and equal or greater reaction is incrementally repeated throughout the script. The buildup of right and wrong, and the questions of displaced or shifts in loyalty run throughout.

“The Felony” is suspenseful and a serious modern drama. The actions, seemingly simplistic, create deeply affecting and life altering reactions which is well played out.

Tom Wilkinson, as Detective Carl Summer, is on point again. His performance in “The Felony” sings as he hits each note with authenticity. A consummate professional Wilkinson delivers every time.

Newcomer to American audiences, Jai Courtney, is able to hold his own alongside the heavyweights and doesn’t get lost or covered by the big names.

There are no weak performances in “The Felony” the ensemble cast comprised of global names, big stars and the local Australian names and unknowns. Each performance is pivotal.

The dialogue is fresh and real, infusing modern techie lingo with traditional and honest interactions. It may not be a complicated plot from first time screenwriter Edgerton and still it is refreshingly honest, with real situations and choices from all sides.

“The Felony” is well written, well directed and a good cop drama. Good cops making bad decisions that cost. I think it will play well to international audiences, although it is a hometown, Sydney, film. Shot entirely down under, which I enjoyed, one gets to see life on the other side and it is honestly not that different.

“The Felony,” a good cop drama, is worth seeing. 

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