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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.37%
Average: 24.49%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 25 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"A cop movie with actual human beings as police officers? Novel concept."
4 stars

A young cop in a new setting; a cynical veteran is his new partner. Think you've seen this flick already? Nope.

Let's be honest: most of the great movie ideas have already been taken. That's why we see so many buddy/cop movies and talking baby sequels. But an astute filmmaker can circumnavigate familiarity and cliche by not only acknowledging the age-old plot girders, but by relying on your expectations of those same conventions.

In other words, Joseph Pierson's EvenHand is a fresh new spin on a potentially tired old movie chestnut: a pair of policemen are partnered together and must contend with wildly different personalities and varying degress of professionalism.

On paper, this may sound like just another familiar old police procedural. I suspect that Pierson knows this as well, as he deftly paints his characters in brushstrokes of gray instead of the Formula Standard of black and white. EvenHand is not much more than a slice-of-life drama (with some sincere laughs sprinkled liberally throughout) that sets its sights one two policemen, civil servants who are fascinating because of their colorful 'realness' and not because of some broad and pedantic character traits.

The one you're sure is an asshole turns out to be the cop you'd probably trust most under pressure; the wide-eyed newcomer seems full of admirable idealism, yet one can't help but get frustrated at his painfully passive approach. That each cop is presented with a broad array of emotion and motivation is thanks mainly to Mike Jones' screenplay, but a lot of praise is due leading men Bill Sage (Boiler Room) and Bill Dawes (Fiona). Just when you think you have these guys pegged as caricatures, something subtle or unexpected raises its head and the message is pretty clear: cops are just normal working men (and women of course). Their power is derived from their status as law-keepers, but come on: they're just flesh and blood average Joes! That this comes across so effortlessly can be attributed to the excellent performances by both Bills.

That Officers Morning and Francis are forced to arrest the same oddball criminals in their small Texas town is telling in and of itself; how much GOOD are these guys actually doing? Despite their best efforts (and the ever-present risk of injury or death) there seems to be no real progress made against the torrent of small-town crime. The officers often come across as somewhat bully-ish - but is it the grueling and thankless work that makes them angry, or do they feel like generally ineffective-yet-sincerely devoted Protectors of the Community? EvenHand succesfully proposes that both are true.

EvenHand moves deftly from insightful character study to endearing 'buddy flick' with even a surprisingly heartfelt attempt at romance wedged in there too. I don't think Pierson and Company set out to reinvent the Cop Movie, but this disarming little indie does deliver a familiar concept from a decidedly original viewpoint.

And in a genre so overloaded with retreads and rehashes, a little originality goes a long way.

Expect this one to pop up on cable or video sometime soon. Then donate your 3 bucks and see what you think. At the very least I bet you'll discover a few 'new' actors to appreciate, though I'd contend EvenHand offers considerably more than that.

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originally posted: 05/12/03 12:39:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/07/10 Stanley Kurpowski One of the most realistic cop movies ever made. 5 stars
6/22/10 not a cop Greay movie, realistic and humorous 5 stars
5/11/08 kenny hagen As a police officer who played a part in the movie, I feel it was right on the money. 5 stars
8/08/07 Roger Tighe Great film, as an officer myself it was spot on. 5 stars
6/10/07 matt sandlin great movie i am a police officer and morning seems like a partner i would like to ride wth 5 stars
8/08/06 Elizabeth S Excellent! 5 stars
4/26/05 Aaron Ker I thought this was an awesome movie, a little low budget but still awesome worthy of buying 5 stars
7/11/04 Antonio Reyes The movie, excellent! Why a fictional city name? I grew up in San Antonio and now a cop. 5 stars
6/08/04 Brock Lamont Movie is a alternate universe of San Antonio. Same cop cars, same city 5 stars
3/12/04 Linda Wonderful film. 5 stars
3/10/04 Ann T. Thrilled when I see a great piece of work. 5 stars
1/30/04 Frank Longoria I'm a Tx. cop and enjoyed the film immensely. 5 stars
1/30/04 kenny hagen i'm a cop and some of played in this movie they did a great job 5 stars
1/26/04 Brad Gronau I am a police officer and this film is a fairly accurate portrayal of everyday patrol. 5 stars
1/01/04 Chris Collins Excellent film and well worth seeing. 4 stars
12/20/03 Dickey Joe Turner I just finished watching. I'm a cop...It was real. 4 stars
12/20/03 Adrian & Lezah Medrano the police have a tough job and this film seems to touch on the reality of there lives. 5 stars
7/08/03 Gus Lopez Great film 5 stars
6/24/03 amita balla awesome 5 stars
6/17/03 Bethany I liked the fatal flaw between Office Morning & Toby. Morning trys to save him- he cannot 4 stars
5/29/03 Amita Balla The Bill and Bill show rocks 5 stars
5/20/03 Neil Manning Could have been just caricatures, but actors and writing give the film real depth. 5 stars
4/20/03 Matthew Jansky Very well directed, avoids common low-bud pitfalls and cliches. 5 stars
4/02/03 rachel gumina i enjoyed every minute. connecting with these characters was smooth. excellent film. 5 stars
3/26/03 Eric Gulley A highly original film that succeeds by avoiding the standard narrative progression 5 stars
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  20-Jan-2004 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2004



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