JACK TAYLOR (2010)
Director: Stuart Orme
Cast: Ian Glen, Frank O’Sullivan, Nora-Jane Noone…
MPAA Rating: NR – Contains strong language, violence, graphic images, nudity, and sexual situations.
Genre(s): Irish noir, crime drama, private investigator, suspense/thriller
Reviewed by Larry Jung
In “The Pikemen,” Jack Taylor (Ian Glen) returns to his hometown of Galway after a year in London. Jack is an alcoholic, a self-destructive loner, and an ex-cop. When he works, Jack Taylor is a “finder.” He doesn’t use the term “private investigator,” which means informer in Ireland. Despite a messed up personal life, as a finder Jack has two things going for him: his intimate knowledge of Galway and its inhabitants and his talent for uncovering nasty secrets.
Jack is not home long when an old family friend seeks his help. He wants Jack’s help to discover whether the former’s son committed suicide like the police said. The father can’t believe it of his son and has nowhere else to go but Jack. What looks like a simple inquiry takes Jack into a whirlpool driven by revenge.
The TV-movies “The Guardian,” “The Pikemen,” and “The Magdalen Martyrs” make up Jack Taylor’s Season 1. I found “The Pikemen” the best of the three. The plot is fast paced and the mystery/crime drives the story forward, unlike in “The Guardian” and “The Magdalen Martyrs.” The latter two spent too much story time on Jack as a self-destructive drunk who is marinated in self-pity over events and people he cannot change. “The Pikemen” instead gives us Jack’s best side: his investigative talents, his stubbornness, and his soft heart. The ending has a ruthless logic that befits the character of Jack Taylor and the mean streets of his home town of Galway.
Iain Glen performance as the sardonic Jack Taylor is in the best hard-boiled tradition, down to the tough-guy dialogue and being a punching/kick bag for the bad guys. Glen’s performance is ably supported by the performances by Killian Scott as Cody Farraher (the hero-worshipping nerd) and Nora-Jane Noone as Garda Kate Noonan (a uniformed cop starting out in her career). Cody and Noonan see something in Jack that they respond to. This makes Jack Taylor more human and more accessible to the viewers. Likewise, for the first time in a long time, Jack opens up and is not the loner, but relies on and has grudging respect for Cody and Noonan, his two young protégés.
Galway is a fitting “stage” for the Jack Taylor stories with the added potential for off-beat and interesting characters in future TV-movies. Galway is a photogenic port town. It is a contrast of cramped alleys and modern office buildings. Its busy narrow streets are populated by hippies, runaways, villains, and bent cops. Galway is Ireland’s Wild West for those who have nowhere else to go.
Overall I enjoyed watching Iain Glen as Jack Taylor and given a solid crime/mystery, he can deliver the goods, as they say in the noir movies.