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Eugene McCanick (David Morse) is a tough-as-nails detective who’s trying to stay sober and reconnect with his estranged son. Everything seems to be going okay for him until he finds out that Simon Weeks (Cory Monteith, in one of his final roles) has just been released from prison. Weeks was sent to jail by McCanick years ago for the murder of a congressman, but there’s clearly more to the story than that. Suddenly obsessed with finding Weeks and increasingly unhinged as his day goes from bad to worse, McCanick finds himself having to tell lie after lie to cover up a series of terrible and tragic mistakes. Angry, riddled with guilt and regret, and back on the bottle, an out of control McCanick launches a rogue one man mission to track down Weeks and put an end to the situation once for all, and no matter the cost.

McCanick’s present day downward spiral is interspersed with flashbacks to his first encounters with Weeks, as the mystery of what happened years ago is slowly revealed. Morse puts in a brilliant and intense performance as the good cop gone very, very bad, and Monteith is both charismatic and enigmatic as the troubled young man. This is a gritty action thriller crossed with heavy dramatic elements, and one which will keep you guessing right up until the final reveal. And, while I found that reveal slightly disappointing, its seemingly anticlimactic yet deeply personal nature fits the film’s serious and tragic tone to a tee. This isn’t Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Philadelphia. It’s a serious tragedy about lost souls who have no choice but to save or destroy one another.

Is McCanick essential TIFF viewing?

For distraught Cory Monteith fans, perhaps, but otherwise, wait until the film is released. It’s a good thriller, and David Morse is as brilliant as he usually is, but there’s better stuff at TIFF which will be harder to track down and catch up on later.

McCanick Screening Times

McCanick trailer

McCanick gallery