Writer-director Paddy Slattery’s Broken Law is another entry into the proud tradition of classic Irish films involving ‘the Guards’ or the Garda Síochána. Beloved titles featuring the national police of Ireland include The Guard, The Siege of Jadotville, and Michael Collins and feature the Garda Síochána both as heroes and villains. Slattery’s action-crime story is a wonderful example of independent cinema and falls right in line as a solid Guardians of the Peace narrative.
The plot follows a week in the life of Dublin-based Guard Dave Connolly (Tristan Heanue). Dave has just moved out from his mom’s place into a flat of his own. His ne’er-do-well brother Joe (earnestly portrayed by Graham Earley) has just been released from prison. Joe would like to lay low and ease his way back into society. However, one of his criminal partners, Wallace (John Connors), needs Joe for a heist of a credit center – a savings and loan in Ireland – and will not be taking no for an answer. Meanwhile, Dave is applying for a loan to buy a house and has been tasked promoting the Guard on a local news outlet.
The movie explores Dave’s capacity to weave his way through witnessing the bank heist, dealing with his brother, and performing adequately for the news team. The high stress of the competing situations is a marvel to behold through Heanue’s expressiveness. While he strives for stoicism and the grim visage of the law, this is not always possible.
“…explores Dave’s capacity to weave his way through witnessing the bank heist, dealing with his brother, and performing adequately for the news team.”
Broken Law is Slattery’s first feature-length offering, and it’s an auspicious start. I enjoyed the interplay between the various characters very much. Connors is most notable as the main criminal as he’s got an easy charm to him. While he commits several strongly detestable acts, you see the outline of the charming rogue John Falstaff backgrounding his work. If anyone wanted to film an Irish version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Connors strikes me as a strong choice for Falstaff, assuming, of course, one could not afford Brendan Gleeson’s fee.
Being the director’s first movie, it does have a rough spot or two. During the heist, an employee, Amia McNamara (Gemma-Leah Deveraux), gets caught up in the fray. A more straightforward resolution to her overall arc would’ve helped things considerably. Furthermore, the hip-hop and hard rock soundtrack is often jarring and clashes with action. A more subtle hand at music selection is to be encouraged. Music is meant to underscore the action, not dominate it.
Apart from those two issues, Broken Law has a strong narrative and is confidently shot. It sticks to its few characters well, and the camera follows the action very effectively and crisply. Slattery fills the production with ample charm and surprises. I would definitely watch any future films from the director. So, if you find yourself looking through your streaming platform for a good, solid crime movie, seek this out. It is an especially good picture to enjoy from the comfort of your couch, with a nice cold brew in your hand.
"…has a strong narrative and is confidently shot."