After making their names with a trio of gritty character dramas set on the streets of New York (The Pleasure of Being Robbed, Daddy Longlegs, Heaven Knows What), the Safdie brothers apply their aesthetic to their most ambitious project to date in Good Time. Following around a grunged-up, bug-eyed Robert Pattinson as a criminal evading the cops over the course of one long hellish urban night, the Safdies have created a pulsing verite thriller that easily outdoes any of this year’s Hollywood product in terms of pure adrenaline.

When an amateur bank robbery attempt goes massively awry, ringleader Connie (Pattinson) and his mentally handicapped brother Nick (played by one half of the directing duo, Ben Safdie), go on the run throughout Manhattan’s concrete jungle. After Ben is apprehended by police, however, Connie is determined to bust him out of the hospital where he is under custody, despite the massive manhunt that is simultaneously underway for him.

As Connie pinballs from one location to the next and interacts with a variety of characters whose own motivations may be dubious, absurd complications are thrown at him left and right that force him to constantly shift his plans. If there was ever a recent film to show that crime doesn’t pay, this is it. Yet even as Connie’s situation gets increasingly dire, the relentless pace and virtuoso filmmaking on display, not to mention a throbbing electronic score from Oneohtrix Point Never, suck you into the scary thrill of running for your life. Once you lock into this ride, you’re on it until the very end.

Pattinson is electric here, fully erasing any lingering pretty boy image from the Twilight movies by sinking deep into the nervy energy and sporadic rage that fuels Connie. He manages to turn a massively unlikeable character into somebody that we’re still sort of rooting for, because despite the numerous awful things he does throughout the night, his love for his brother is unwavering and he won’t stop until they’re reunited. It may be high praise, but there’s a bit of a young Pacino in the way Pattinson skulks around the film.

It’s been a while since a movie threw so much raw energy and so many bizarre twists and turns at its audience. By the time Connie reaches a showdown in a neon-drenched amusement park after hours, you’ll have fully succumbed to the Safdie’s good times.

Is Good Time essential viewing?

Yes, this is the kind of summer thrill ride that deserves to find an audience. The Safdie brothers straddle the line of arthouse and genre cinema with ease, while reinventing the crime film along the way.

Good Time opens Friday, August 4, 2017 at Cineplex Cinemas Varsity. Check their website for more information.

Good Time Trailer