Aaron Eckhart tries his hand at starring in his first direct to video release. “Line Of Duty” is a solid constantly on the go actioner with a committed and strong, action star part for Aaron Eckhart. “Line of Duty” is up and running as soon as the film starts and remains at a breakneck pace for it’s entire run time. Filled with foot chases, car chases, shootouts and one on one fight scenes. Director Steven C Miller mixes the action with a sly commentary, on the different ways police actions can be misrepresented by journalists. While “Line Of Duty” is a direct to video release, it is a real action movie gem amongst the dozens of DTV movies featured at your local Wal Mart.
“Line Of Duty” is the kind of formula action film that has one goal in mind, to entertain as a breathless and pummeling thriller. It worries about the foot chases, the car chases, the shootouts and the one on one fight scenes first. Then it jams all of it’s story and character development into the last fifteen to twenty minutes. Despite it’s big on action, short on story structure, “Line Of Duty” is still a solid constantly on the go actioner with a strong, action star part for Aaron Eckhart.
“Line of Duty” tries to establish the kind of person Aaron Eckhart’s officer Penny is. The film opens during Officer Penny’s morning routine, waking up at the crack of dawn to work out with some push ups before taking a moment to have breakfast, as he reads the sports section. He meticulously prepares for his beat by loading up his gun, stocking up on extra clips and having second thoughts about wearing his wedding ring. He is an all-American male, who is clearly without a family, as he is forced to deal with past sins that screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale doesn’t bother with until the films third act.
Taking place almost in real-time, the film kicks off into high speed action mode within the first ten minutes. Penny gets propelled smack dab into the action, when a suspect flees a large operation and winds up crossing his path having just killed several cops. A ten minute foot chase pursues as Eckhart manages to take him down but is quickly dismissed by his Chief Volk, fearful he’s lost his last lead to finding his kidnapped daughter.
Joining Officer Penny in the search for Volk’s daughter is Ava. A social media reporter armed with a camera trying to prove her worth as a news vlogger, by following Penny to create a story. Ava’s intentions was to expose the truth around police activity. Screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale turns the two into reluctant partners, being given just over an hour to find Volk’s daughter Claudia.
Director Steven C Miller has been filling his resume in recent years directing direct to video actioners starring ex A-list actors like Bruce Willis and John Cusack. “Line Of Duty” is his best film and a huge step up from his previous films. Unlike Miller’s usual choice star Bruce Willis, Aaron Eckhart plays Officer Penny in a fully committed role. Eckhart plays it as an actor who cares.
Eckhart is the lead here and is virtually in every scene. He carries the film and the movie really works because of him. He plays Officer Penny as more of a regular older guy, where watching him fight his way out against a younger, better-armed opponent is all part of the fun. While this is Eckhart’s show, Courtney Eaton is a fun sidekick. Eaton works relatively well with Eckhart, keeping in bicker mode as they clash over generational issues and survival. Veteran actor Giancarlo Esposito plays a small part as the pissed-off police captain trying to get his daughter back.
One of the best things I enjoyed about “Line Of Duty” is that Miller wisely doesn’t rely on the camera that Courtney Eaton uses to follow Eckhart as his gimmick, meaning this isn’t another found footage film. The live stream is only used now and then and is abandoned during the big action scenes. Steven C Miller’s job is to get “Line of Duty” up and running as soon as the film starts and remains at a breakneck pace.
Miller and Drysdale offers a sly commentary on the not-always straightforward connections between truth and the news. We not only see direct forms of reportage, but also different ways police actions can be mediated and misrepresented by journalists in achieving in getting hits or views on their videos.
Eckhart gives it his all, and Miller infuses the film and the action with a ton of energy, helped by a propulsive score by The Newton Brothers. At its heart, it is a chase movie, but by switching from conventional camerawork aerials, cranes, two-shot dialogue to Ava’s raw camera footage. While it may be small-scale being a direct to dvd release, “Line Of Duty” is a gem amongst the dozens of DTV movies featured at your local Wal Mart.
GRADE: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)