05th Feb2020

‘In The Line of Duty’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Ben McKenzie, Courtney Eaton, Dina Meyer, Giancarlo Esposito, Jessica Lu, James Hutchison III | Written by Jeremy Drysdale | Directed by Steven C Miller


In 2015 Steven C. Miller, director of horror hits such as The Aggression Scale, Under the Bed and Submerged, made a move into the action genre with the Bruce Willis-featuring Extraction (the first of three film he made with Willis). He has since stuck with the genre directing films like Mararuders, Southern Fury (aka Arsenal), and Escape Plan 2 – ever so slowly working his way up the echelon of named stars. Be they in cameo roles a la Bruce Willis and Sly Stallone (because yes, his appearance in Escape Plan 2 was really an extended cameo)…

However now comes In The Line of Duty (renamed from just Line of Duty here in the UK to avoid confusion with the TV detective drama of the same name), which sees former Two-Face Aaron Eckhart in the lead role as a put-upon, downtrodden cop who – in reality – is so dedicated to his role its costing him his job AND his life. Eckhart plays cop Frank Penny who, after disobeying direct orders, kills the kidnapper of the police chief’s 11-year-old daughter. Now with her life on the line, Frank goes rogue to try and save the young girl. But to find her Frank will need the help of vlogger Ava Brooks, whose live-streaming news channel is broadcasting Frank’s every move to an ever-watching city… and the kidnapper’s brother (Ben McKenzie), who’s watching Frank’s every move in his quest for revenge.

If there’s one thing you can say about all of Steven C. Miller’s films, and I definitely WILL say it every time I review one of his films, it is that he certainly knows how to create high-impact , high-action visuals, no matter the budget. And with In The Line of Duty he ramps everything up to 11; with over the top car chases, explosions and some fantastic gunfights – its the kind of action you’d normally associate with the likes of PM Entertainment, so much so that I was reminded of the PM-produced L.A. Heat whilst watching this film!

What In The Line of Duty also has is a SUPERB villain in former The O.C. star Ben McKenzie, his performance easily rivals the classic action-movie madmen of your favourite action thriller. McKenzie truly holds his own against the more experienced Eckhart and it’s, honestly, hard to believe McKenzie is the same guy who played angst-ridden teen Ryan Atwood on that early 2000s LA-set TV show!

Besides all the action, In the Line of Duty offers some rather interesting commentary on the state of news reporting, online media and the rise of the vlogger (and to a lesser extent how they aren’t bound by the rules of television and risks more sometimes to get the story). And just when you think Miller and co. are going to turn the idea of vlogging and internet “fame” as a force for evil – for that is how it’s portrayed in a myriad of other genre films – it turns out that, at least here, vlogging and the ridiculous amount of time people dedicate to watching online video etc., actually builds communities; and, come the end of the film, gives us a powerful example of one such community – made up of a diverse range of ages, cultures, creeds and colours – coming together in a fantastic example of humanity at its best.

Speaking of best, In The Line of Duty is easily, for me, one of Steven C Miller’s best – clearly showing how far he’s come since 2015 when he first stepped foot into the action/thriller genre, and I’m definitely interested to see what comes next!

**** 4/5

In the Line of Duty is on Digital HD and DVD on February 24th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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