Directed by Andrea Di Stefano and adapted from Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström’s best-selling novel “Three Seconds”, the film is a gripping and compelling tale that is full of tense twists and turns. It tells us the story of a former special operations soldier and ex-convict, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) and his desperate plight to lead a normal family life. Circumstances turn him from a loving husband to a convict, who is then forced to work undercover with the FBI, teaming with Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) and Montomery (Clive Owen), to bring down the Polish drug lord who is known as The General (Eugene Lipinski).
When the big drug deal, whose exposure was supposed to be Peter’s exit ticket from the world of crime ends on a bloody note after a NYPD police officer is killed by one of the trigger-happy gangsters, Koslow finds himself stuck in the crossfire between the mob and the FBI.
He is now forced to accept his fate, re-enter the prison system or his wife Sofia Hoffman (Ana de Armas) and daughter would suffer the consequences. How he disentangles himself from this dangerous web and escapes, forms the crux of the tale.
The plot, despite straying into narrative cliches of the given genre, proves a solid thriller that genuinely keeps you on the edge of the seat throughout. While the entire narrative was even paced, the third act proves a bit shaky in terms of scene handling. The climax crashes in an offbeat note.
One of the strong points of the film, apart from the writing of the screenplay, is the performance by its stellar cast. Kinnaman steals the show with his Koslow act. He is explosive and brooding as Koslow, proving an impressive presence in the physical and often brutal action sequences. His desperate fight for survival finds a visceral pathos.
Rosamund Pike also nails her character Wilcox to perfection. The other actor who steals the show is Common, playing the determined NYPD police officer Grens, who runs into Koslow’s case. He is menacing, brooding and actually quite hysterical.
Eugene Lipinski is wasted in a miniscule, unexciting role as Mob Lord. But nevertheless he leaves his mark, every time he was on screen albeit for a short duration.
The Cuban actress Ana De Armas, with her sultry looks is definitely a scene stealer, but unfortunately her character is underwritten and she has hardly anything to offer. Overall, with ace production values and the right dollop of action sequences, the film, is a hard-edged, old-school crime thriller that has a raw and gritty feel and is engaging till the very end.