After his beloved elderly mother is killed during a break in, farmer Donal soon discovers that there may have been more to her death than it first seemed, and as a murky underworld gradually reveals itself, the further he delves into the shadows the more he may regret what he finds there.
The surprisingly populous sub-genre of middle-aged-man-on-a-rampage gets an Irish entry. However, instead of the likes of Taken, Man On Fire or any DTV thriller with a generic single-word title that stars Nicholas Cage, this is far closer to the likes of Blue Ruin or Norwegian thriller In Order of Disappearance. Rather than the protagonist having a shady past that has afforded him a particular set of skills, Donal instead becomes successful in his journey of vengeance through little more than grim relentless determination and the criminals he faces being far from efficient professionals, and are overly complacent in how much of a threat they believe their low-rent thuggery radiates. Far more formidable is the crime gang’s leader Frankie, a monstrous woman whose simmering unpredictability punctuated by outbursts of extreme violence calls to mind Ben Kingsley’s psychotic enforcer from Sexy Beast.
It doesn’t hurt that Donal is a heavily built guy who can both give and receive a reasonable amount of punishment, and with some wonderfully inventive uses of household implements (such as a saucepan and an iron) as impromptu torture devices, he remains convincing enough as a growing force to be reckoned with. As fun as it is to watch detestable thugs being unceremoniously killed, there never seems to be any indication that Donal’s actions are affecting him in any way, despite previously being an insular man living an isolated existence and now having suddenly jumped to killing half a dozen people in a couple of days, but it also means that you don’t need to expend any pangs of conscience wresting with any moral ambiguity. With the kinds of crime these people are a part of, anything that happens to them they deserve.
The story as it stands isn’t particularly expansive so quickly picks up a secondary plot line of Donal helping young Polish man Bartosz in an attempt to save his sister from a life of forced prostitution at the hands of the criminals he is hunting, reflecting an uncomfortable and grim reality for many eastern European girls and putting a human face on the suffering the gang’s actions cause.
The film could easily have ended twenty minutes earlier, but it almost seems like the film is consciously aware that so short a running time would seem a little unsatisfactory, so drags out its conclusion and final revelations for as long as possible, trying to inject a degree of moral ambivalence on the way that it unfortunately lacks the emotional weight to adequately pull off. There is a strong suggestion that cycles of vengeance merely go around and around, an observation of particular poignancy for a country with a recent history so mired in conflict and one that in making Bad Day for the Cut is at its most insightful.
BAD DAY FOR THE CUT / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR: CHRIS BAUGH / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS BAUGH, BRENDAN MULLIN / STARRING: NIGEL O’NEILL, JÓZEF PAWLOWSKI, SUSAN LYNCH, STUART GRAHAM, ANNA PRÓCHNIAK, DAVID PEARSE, IAN MCELHINNEY / RELEASE DATE: TBA
Expected Rating: 7/10