"Aside from Morse, noting much else from McCanick is difficult because it seems to exist in that realm of action filmmaking where most everything is indifferent."
Eugene McCanick (David Morse) is a hard-boiled detective who doesn't play by the rules. When he learns that young drug dealer and street hustler Simon Weeks (the late Cory Monteith) is back on the street - a man he had help putting away years later - he must hunt down the man with his partner (Mike Vogel), whom he deliberately provides false information to. Weeks is wanted for involvement in a case concerning a murdered congressman, but, per usual, there may be more of a reason here to define McCanick's unbridled fascination with the street thug.
Josh C. Waller's McCanick is a foul-mouthed action film that will either serve as basic entertainment for some or no entertainment for others. At its core is a solid starring role for David Morse, who has been around the action filmmaking block several times now. He provides the film with more charisma than one would rightly assume a relatively low-budget action film would possess today.
Aside from Morse, noting much else from McCanick is difficult because it seems to exist in that realm of action filmmaking where most everything is indifferent. Waller's direction remains steady throughout the entire course of the film, but is relatively bland and doesn't provide much on-screen flair to a story that could've used it (take a look at how Walter Hill's pseudo-film noir style benefitted his otherwise indifferent action effort Bullet to the Head). Daniel Noah's screenplay, on the other hand, clearly has ambition to make this story an inspired character study, given the heavy focus on McCanick and his duties as an officer, but the only real moments we get that show any humanization come at the tail end of the picture, looking more like an afterthought than an immediate focal point of the story.
Then, finally, there's the final half, which takes place largely in seedy areas where no one is safe. Waller directs these areas with low lighting, giving the film's quality an indistinct and muddled appearance. It becomes hard to distinguish what exactly is going on, and that's like an elbow in the side when it comes to fans of this particular genre.
Despite Morse's performance and a mixture of genre odds-and-ends to lukewarm effect, McCanick will undoubtedly be remembered predominantly as Glee actor Cory Monteith's final starring role. Monteith's performance here may have given audiences a hint to what he may have been doing later with his career, but in its entirety, it's an average performance marred by lines such as, "All you cops are the same - dirty, like an a**hole." There are the makings of a character actor here but they will likely go unnoticed by the strong emphasis on Morse's persona and the action-cop movie tendencies. The same way Waller's filmmaking skills may go unnoticed with McCanick's unfortunate indifference.
Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film CriticShare: