JACK TAYLOR (2010)

Series 1

 

Director:  Stuart Orme
Writer(s): Tom Collins, Anne McCabe, Stuart Orme, Marteinn Thorisson,
(Based on the books by Ken Bruen)

Cast: Ian Glen, Frank O’Sullivan, Nora-Jane Noone

MPAA Rating: NR – Contains strong language, violence, graphic images, nudity, and sexual situations.
3 Discs, 3
feature-length episodes
Run time: approx. 273 minutes

Price: $49.99

Genre(s): Irish noir, crime drama, private investigator, suspense/thriller

 

Reviewed by Cherie Jung
(August, 2014)

 

The setting is Galway, on Ireland’s rugged western coast. Jack Taylor (Ian Glen) is an alcoholic, former Garda (cop), turned private investigator with a three day growth of stubble on his face. 

Are there any ex-cops-turned-private-investigators who aren’t alcoholics? Must they all have a ratty-looking three-day-old beard, no apparent personal hygiene, and all be named “Jack?”

There are three feature-length episodes in the first series. (Apparently episodes 4 and 5 were not included with the series 1 DVD released in 2013.) The episodes included are: “The Guards,” “The Pikemen,” and “The Magdalen Martyrs.”

For me, the first episode, “The Guards,” is the weakest of the three. It seems the writers were determined to get every noir cliché they could into the script. As mentioned, Jack Taylor is a drunken, self-destructive, loner, ex-cop trying to earn a living by finding missing people. Enter the femme-fatale, the corrupt politicians, the corrupt cops, more missing girls, along with twists and turns in the sinister plot that threaten to destroy Jack if he doesn’t mind his own business. Of course he’s not going to mind his own business or we wouldn’t have much of a series, would we?

In “The Pikemen” the underlying plot is just as sinister but handled more deftly by the writers or director. Jack is asked by a grieving father to find out what really happened to his son. The father doesn’t believe the cops’ official version, that his son committed suicide. Jack’s investigation soon pits him against a local vigilante group. The action is gritty and fast paced. The writers or director have achieved a better tempo, better pacing with the story elements in this episode without resorting to the gimmicky noir “tags” of the first episode. Noir can be fresh and exciting. It doesn’t have to be stale and repetitive.

“The Magdalen Martyrs” finds Jack being asked to find out the real identity of a nun referred to as “Lucifer” by the girls she tortured decades ago in the Magdalen laundry, a halfway home for wayward girls, in Galway. The request is from the daughter of one of the girls who spent six years at the laundry.

 
No, I haven’t read the books these movies are based on and frankly, after watching these movies, I have no interest in reading the books. I get the idea. It’s noir. The protagonist is a tortured soul. The demon drink has cost him his friends, family, etc. and he is struggling. He’s a loner, a reluctant hero, a loser to all but a few who see the real man cloaked in the disheveled, booze-addled figure who staggers along  the mean streets of Galway but still has a moral compass and a heart of gold. I get all of that, really I do.

But why can’t the “Jacks” figure out that the gorgeous women taking them into their beds without so much as a “Take a shower, please…” or “Here’s a razor. Shave…” edict must be up to no good or are using them for their own nefarious purposes? Just because it’s noir doesn’t mean showers throughout Galway have run dry.

Having said that, I liked the way Ian Glen’s Jack was up front with his female conquest when he explained that he has a self-destruct button. When something or someone good comes into his life, he sabotages it. He has come to terms with that. He has come to terms with his drinking. He has come to terms with being the outsider because of his own choices. He looks and acts like a drunk. He’s not a pretty boy. But he does have his own charm and you can understand why there are still decent people who will do almost anything for him. Before I forget, I must give credit to Jack’s unshaven face. By the second movie in the series, “The Pikemen,” the beard was still scruffy-looking but clearly beyond the former 3-day-old look. A definite improvement, I thought. Jack Taylor, as played by Ian Glen is very charismatic. I am looking forward to the next three episodes in Series 2. I hope they will continue to be gritty, intriguing, and fast-paced…and not fall back into noir clichés.


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