Vowing to turn his life around after getting out of prison, Foley is offered the con of a lifetime. When he refuses, an old friend turned enemy turns up the heat.
Foley (Samuel L. Jackson) is fresh out of prison and his old partner’s son comes to him with a surefire con and a huge payday. Determined to set his life right, Foley resists as his his would-be employer lets him know that the offer wasn’t a request. Blackmail and betrayal eventually force Foley’s hand. As his dark past drags him further and further from the future he wants, he finds solace with one woman who seems to understand him. But she may prove to be his biggest source of damnation.
Jackson turns in his usual standout performance and largely carries what is otherwise an old tale. Yes, there are twists and turns but the largest twist comes on fairly early, so this is movie is more about the character of Foley and his quest for redemption while traveling a road through Hell. The rest of the performances are solid, if not stellar, and largely dissolve into the background of Foley’s tale – as they should. Luke Kirby makes for a finely detestable nemesis but Ruth Negga is hard to nail down as Iris. She plays the role well enough, but you never really get a feel for her character and her motivations are nebulous at best.
An interesting – if at times uncomfortable – retro film noir piece, this film aims high but delivers only in small spurts. While Foley’s turmoil is palpable, it’s hard to get into the mind of the other characters who drive the story. The big hidden plot piece has been done before, but is done better here, but ultimately this film lives and dies on Jackson’s performance and a solid finale, which saves an otherwise uneven final act.