Tommy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Solid evidence that good cinematography ≠ good movie. While the filmic qualities of any film are ultimately responsible for the way you perceive the events onscreen, there’s really nothing that compelling going on in this story. Every character is a cardboard cutout, whether it be the irrational father who unsurprisingly goes off the ledge and does whatever it takes, Jake Gyllenhaal as “Detective”, or obvious red herring sweaty Paul Dano. Sure, the latter’s mother is compelling, but that’s not until the third act after two hours’ worth of movie. It’s far too long... despite all the twists and turns, I never felt like the story was so complicated. I understand what Villeneuve is getting at with the pursuit of torture and violence being worthless, destructive pursuits, but that theme has been done much more compellingly a million times over in the thriller drama alone.
Recommended* - It’s popcorn fare masquerading as a “journey into the darkness of human nature”, with all its miserable, self-serious thrashing. It can’t be bothered to actually violate taboos or go any real dark places in its filmic or story qualities, though. But it’s also undeniably slick and well-executed, I can recognize at least that.
(*to my dad and everyone else in love with this current phase of grimdark, Fincher-esque crime film/television procedurals. I am not one of those people.)