2013 Certificate: 15


Two policeman brothers - Joe (Paul Bettany) and Chrissie Fairburn (Stephen Graham) - collapse under the weight of their father's shadow (Brian Cox) in this hard-hitting British drama from director Nick Murphy. Investigating the murder of a 12-year-old at a shabby British seaside town, they resort to their own tough justice and mete out a lethal attack on the chief suspect. However, another possible culprit emerges and they attract the attention of their suspicious superior officer (Mark Strong). Based on the BBC TV series Conviction.


  • Nick Murphy


  • Paul Bettany

  • Stephen Graham

  • Brian Cox

  • Mark Strong

  • Ben Crompton


It speaks dark volumes that director Nick Murphy set this grittily accomplished Brit-thriller around his Merseyside home town of West Kirby...because he thought it would be a good place to bury a body.

Sure enough, a poor unfortunate is whacked over the head with a shovel and pushed into a sandy grave destined to be covered by the tide.

He's Jason Buleigh, a smirking God-botherer with a form as a child abuser. His killers are local cops - Joe (Bettany), a quick-tempered, hard-drinking married detective and his brother Chrissie (Graham), a more pensive singleton who's just about to tie the knot.

Their beef with Buleigh is that he's just been released after his arrest for the murder of a teenage girl. The reason was lack of evidence...but Joe and Chrissie are convinced he did it and - after Joe's drunken anniversary party - become judge, jury and executioner.

There's an impressive attention to detail here with Murphy particularly strong on the psychological fall-out of the killing: Joe remains impassive despite being constantly haunted by visions of the victim while Chrissie falls apart, wracked by guilt.

There's also the problem of their colleague Robert (Strong), a charismatic loner who painstaking modus operandi leads the police to the real killer...and then starts studiously investigating the disappearance of Buleigh.

With its top-draw British cast (Brian Cox is also on board as the brothers' overbearing father, now suffering dementia), chilly sense of location and downbeat atmosphere, there's nods to that other northern classic Get Carter.

And it's good to know that a couple of hundred miles up the M6 there's a criminal culture that's more than a match for anything mockney muppets have to throw at it.