EDWARD Norton has revived a city load of cinematic ideas that appeared to be on the verge of extinction.
Gumshoe detectives in trilby hats, the shadows of blinds against the walls of smoky offices, a mysterious dame (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in peril and . . . Edward Norton.
Personally, I welcome the return all of these unfashionable elements, particularly the long-neglected Norton who had to write and direct this movie in order to get himself a lead role.
It starts very promisingly, with his private detective Lionel shadowing his boss Frank (Bruce Willis) on a dodgy deal that goes badly wrong.
The phone call, the car chase, the hoodlums and a race to the hospital will have you on the edge of your seat.
But after that this jazz-themed drama with a soundtrack written by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke gradually loses its swing, as Norton’s 1950s-set script takes a very modern turn.
Old school intrigue is replaced by so much of Norton’s one-man political grandstanding that the film not only feels off rhythm, it also threatens to become a long and boring solo.
Thankfully, it picks up the pace again for a rousing finale that does enough to erase the off-key moments.