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FOUR STARS: INJUSTICE Delivers Justice To Deftly Layered Character Drama
on August 13, 2012
To date, James Purefoy has had a wonderful career. He first came to my attention in 2001's A KNIGHT'S TALE where he made the most out of a secondary role as Colville. Then, I remember his chewing scenery as Marc Anthony in HBO & the BBC's stellar "Rome" series. Then, I saw him in the US-ignored SOLOMON KANE - a theatrical adaptation of Robert E. Howard's legendary pulp character - and, while I can admit the picture had some nominal flaws, it became clear to me that, if justice were served, Purefoy was destined for some greater things. Still, he's toiled in relative obscurity; hopefully, INJUSTICE will correct that.
William Travers (played by Purefoy) is a barrister who's given up on big-city law after suffering a mental breakdown upon learning that he successfully represented a criminal responsible for a heinous accident. Instead, he prefers representing petty criminals from his home in rural Suffolk. However, when a past friend accused of murder asks for his representation personally, Travers begrudgingly agrees ... but what he eventually uncovers will push him to his psychological limits, forcing him to question what he personally believes in.
So far as the story is concerned, INJUSTICE is a bit of an anomaly. It isn't easily classified. It's one part police procedural, one part legal thriller, and one part character drama. There are several different storylines revolving around the main plot; yet all of them congeal on the premise of what justice in an unjust world looks like. Granted, there are elements here which appear to be circumstantial as they're revealed, but, as the investigation unfolds, the audience finds out how interwoven this shared reality of theirs truly is.
It's all acted brilliantly by Purefoy and his thematic counterpoint, DI Mark Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles). Creator Anthony Horowitz constructs a massive one-two punch by having two seemingly separate stories collide - Travers conducts his own discovery into his friend's murder charge while Wenborn is drawn closer to the elusive identity of a cruel assassin. Both leads are hell bent on seeing justice served in whatever form they can achieve, and, it becomes clear that - even though Travers and Wenborn may be curiously complicit in bending the rules - we're supposed to either agree or identify with them at some point. The audience may not like where their respective method delivers each man, but don't be shocked to realize you may be rooting for the wrong `good guy' before all is said and done.
Also, actress Sasha Behar has some nice moments as Travers' legal `sidekick', actress Dervla Kirwan gets time to shine as Travers' dutiful wife, and Nathaniel Parker will have you thinking twice as the man accused of murdering his pretty young secretary.
INJUSTICE is a television miniseries (five 45-minute episodes) produced by Injustice Films. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled through Acorn Media. Picture and audio quality are exceptionally good as they are both used to tremendous effect in spinning a yarn with flashbacks and `psychological' episodes. I'm comfy admitting that I had some problem accessing the Episodes menu, but I was able to bypass it by selecting the `Play All' option. The only special feature is a collection of production photos; granted, it would've been nice to have some actor, writer, or director commentary on the nature of psychosis or mental breakdowns - a subject near and dear to the main plot - but, alas, it wasn't meant to be.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. While INJUSTICE may be a bit slow for some viewers' tastes, I only thought the first hour dragged a bit. Some of that was due to the narrative structure of the piece - there are two parallel tales on the nature of `justice' versus `injustice', and, as a consequence, there are two sets of pieces that need to be placed in motion. By the conclusion of the second hour, it's very clear where the tale is heading and how the storytelling devices work. Then, INJUSTICE clearly becomes a slowly simmering meditation on how the justice system can corrupt even the most cautious, right-minded individual, so much so that it may rot him to the core, though others might be hard pressed to see it.