Ignorance is bliss, or so they say. And sometimes, living in ignorance isn’t a viable option. When we’re given the chance to walk a mile in another’s shoes, even just for a day, we should take it. Perhaps doing so would chase away that comfortable ignorance and replace it with understanding, sympathy and cooperation. Directed by Steven C Miller, In the Line of Duty explores this social phenomenon, and how the truth is a shape with infinite sides and perspectives.
The thriller follows Frank Penny (Aaron Eckart), an amiable cop who is launched into the middle of an unanticipated shootout when a downtown police mission goes horribly wrong. Being the dutiful man that he is, Penny gives chase, despite order from his superiors to stand down, and eventually corners the suspect at a local farmer’s market. The man’s behaviour is odd, and he draws a gun of his own, forcing Penny to shoot him in self-defence. “Ask him how it feels to lose everything”. These are the man’s final words, and they soon prove to be a precursor to a far more cruel game, built at the hands of a vengeful, grieving man.
News of Penny’s actions are immediately leaked to the media, and Volk (Giancarlo Esposito), the Chief of Police, temporarily suspends him from his responsibilities. But relief, it seems, is yet to make an appearance when Volk and Penny are sent a disturbing video: Claudia, Volk’s eleven-year-old daughter, has been abducted and she will drown in exactly 64 minutes. At the same time, Ava Brooks (Courtney Eaton), an amateur live-stream reporter, always in search of the next big story eavesdrops on Penny and Volk; she willingly takes on the burden of providing the public with the unfiltered, brutal truth and inserts herself into the investigation. Though Penny is reduced down to the role of being the force’s latest disgrace and latest ‘rogue cop’, he chooses to act once again, racing to save Claudia from an undeserved fate. Soon Penny and Ava become reluctant allies in the quest for justice. But danger is brewing and the man behind it all is hell-bent on seeing this through to the bitter end.
In the Line of Duty is a fast-paced, engrossing take on the domesticated cop thriller. Eckart’s character, though not without his own troubled past, is refreshingly likeable, free of the self-sabotaging behaviours that define many a male badge-bearer in contemporary entertainment. Penny is driven but kind, brave but not outrageously reckless or in disregard of his own safety. His heart is big and the father-daughter dynamic that he comes to embrace with teenage Ava is comedic gold, highlighting the generational gap in a light, respectful way through their continual bickering. Eaton’s performance is splendid and reflective of the times, seeing as she is deeply involved with, and a rigorous activist of social media and using its extensive influence to reach other. Both actors use rooting for their characters’ success and leave us clutching the arms of our chairs at the unknown hazards waiting for them as they follow the next lead. Ben Mackenzie and Giancarlo Esposito are wonderful in their supporting roles, balancing out the scales to help round out the film as a whole.
We’ll never be able to fully understand a man-or a woman-until we walk a mile in their shoes. Even if you’re seen as a villain, a hero, or just an ordinary person in between, we all have our reasons for acting the way we do. Perhaps we might actually try to do this, and not just admire the beauty of its philosophical roots. Maybe then we won’t need to imagine walking in the life of a stranger, because we’ll be living in it instead.
In the Line of Duty is available on Digital now
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favorite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95