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Friday, August 10, 2012

INJUSTICE -- DVD review by porfle

In the suspenseful British mini-series INJUSTICE (2011), now a two-disc DVD from Acorn Media, we get what you might call "Law vs. Order" with a ruthless cop sending 'em up and a crusading barrister getting 'em off. 

The barrister, William Travers (solidly portrayed by James Purefoy of A KNIGHT'S TALE), has a phobia against defending anyone he thinks may actually be guilty.  He's been fooled in the past, resulting in a violent nervous breakdown and a "no more murder cases" rule.  But a former college chum, Martin Newall (Nathaniel Parker), contacts him with an urgent plea: defend him against a charge of murdering his secretary whilst fooling around with her in their hotel room.  Reluctantly, Travers takes the case. 

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles), who already hates Travers, is assigned the case of a man shot dead on a secluded farm.  Wenborn discovers that the victim is one of Travers' former clients, and there's physical evidence that may place the lawyer at the murder scene.  Is this Wenborn's chance to take Travers down? 

There are various other plot threads during the five episodes of INJUSTICE, including Travers' do-gooder wife Jane (Dervla Kirwan, BALLYKISSANGEL) working with a young inmate in a boys' detention facility who dreams of being a writer, but it's Purefoy and Creed-Miles who command most of our attention.  Purefoy has developed into quite a skilled actor, and scripter Anthony Horowitz ("Foyle's War") gives us a character we want to believe in despite growing evidence that he himself is a killer out to avenge a past miscarriage of justice. 

On the other side of the coin, Creed-Miles leaves teeth marks on the scenery as the abrasive, unscrupulous cop Wenborn whose boss (David Schofield, FROM HELL, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) allows him to bend the rules as long as he "gets results."  If this were an action flick instead of the low-key, slowburn, methodical thriller that it is, Wenborn would be screeching around corners or leaping from building to building chasing down suspects and then beating confessions out of them. 

As it is, his ever-roiling hostility is taken out on a hapless rookie partner (Obi Abili) and, unforgivably, his long-suffering wife Maggie (Kirsty Bushell).  The character is vile but fascinating, and it's interesting to see Creed-Miles in such a role since the only other thing I know him for is as Ian Holm's timid apprentice priest David in THE FIFTH ELEMENT. 

INJUSTICE follows the two investigations as they manage to intertwine not only with each other but also with Jane's attempt to help young inmate Alan (Joe Cole), whose repellent mother (Amelia Lowdell will make you appreciate your own dear old mum a bit more) is shacked up with an illegal gun dealer who may have supplied the murder weapon in the farm killing.  While Wenborn closes in on Travers, the lawyer tries to sort out his client's story as the circumstances around it get darker and more nefarious, with the fear that Newall may really be guilty hanging over Travers all the while. 

The story is involving enough to keep us hooked for all five episodes, giving us some pretty good twists here and there and offering a couple of relatively odd protagonists whom we're never really sure we should be rooting for or against at any given time.  The cast is fine and the production is slickly done, with some imaginative visuals--an early sweeping crane shot of the farm is gorgeous, while director Colm McCarthy ("Murphy's Law", "Single-Handed") has fun with such things as a car exploding in super-duper slow motion and a generous use of rapid-fire editing in the many flashbacks. 

The 2-disc DVD from Acorn Media is in 16:9 widescreen with Dolby Digital sound and English subtitles.  A brief photo gallery is the sole extra.

INJUSTICE progresses at a literary pace and depth, taking its own sweet time to unfold a story which ultimately proves rewarding for the patient viewer and has a twist ending that's fun even if we see it coming.  With that, the main attraction for me was the performances, with Purefoy, Creed-Miles, Kirwan, and Parker heading an exceptional cast. 

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