Hyena – About as gritty as gritty crime thrillers get
Written and directed by: Gerard Johnson
Michael Logan (Ferdinando) has it all. He is a highly decorated cop, he has his hands in the local Turkish drug trade, and in his free time he enjoys life to the cocaine-alcohol-fueled fullest with his band of street cop mates. Things start to crumble though when his contact with the Turks is brutally murdered in front of him. The Albanian brothers who are responsible are ruthless and maniacal. Michael tries to keep his micro-empire together by immediately forging a tentative alliance with the murderous brothers, but when he tries to collect what he is owed things go from bloody to…well… bloodier. Throw into the mix an internal affairs investigator (Dormer) who wants nothing more than to take Michael and his buddies down, and you have tensity coming form all angles.
In Gerard Johnson’s (“Tony”) second film, he brings us a dirty, grimy world full of amoral characters. The film seems to revel in it’s own grittiness and depravity. Ferdinando as Michael is not necessarily likeable, but he is extremely entertaining as he navigates through a sea of drugs, sex-trafficking, and murder. The intensity gets even more ramped up when Stephen Graham (“Boardwalk Empire”) show up as Michael’s former partner (and boy do they have unresolved issues) who is heading up the task force that is investigating the very crime syndicate Michael is in bed with.
There aren’t a ton of surprises, and the ending has frustrated some viewers (although I had no issue with it). The lead performance, the intense violence, and the wonderful score (by THE THE) and cinematography by Benjamin Kracun will be enough to draw most people in. I enjoyed it for it’s dinginess and yes, those things I just listed. I also loved that neither Johnson or Ferdinando did anything to make Michael seem like a sympathetic or heroic character. I kept waiting for the character to start searching for redemption like so many cliches before, but it never happened. I applaud that. Much like “Bad Lieutenant” and “Filth”, “Hyena” is really just a straight forward crime flick about a dirty cop who gets in way over his head. And, I liked it. A lot.