The main character (Ryan Gosling) has a clear goal -- to be a big shot lawyer at a big shot firm -- but we realize his actual goal may not be that. Will he choose the big shot firm or continue working a case for the low-paying DA office to put a murderer in jail?
The movie strongly depicts the desire of lawyers are and how all lawyers should behave. When faced with the decision of making more money or doing the right thing, they should choose the latter. If they did, we'd live a world with a little less evil.
Good lawyers: I love you.
(Note: Interesting casting choice here with Anthony Hopkins. His twisted and brilliant mind is almost the same as it is in "Silence of the Lambs". I don't think he had to do much prep work for this one. I wonder if the movie would have been better or worse without him as the antagonist.)
it's a lethal game of cat and mouse where Hopkins kills his wife and Gosling tries his best to sentence him but ends up being blindsided on more than one occasion
haunting music to boot, too
if the last act doesn't save the entire move the first two are worth it seeing who can see past each other more in a bloody murder-mystery such as this
Take two the of the better actors, combine with a good director who has an inkling of how to build suspense, and some good one-liners. You get the makings of of a great movie, but that promise is not fulfilled. For myself I haven't seen much of Gosling, he reminds me of a classier Matthew McConaughy, but he's competent. Hopkins is the master of the psycho, mind-f..cking character which he has perfected and he roles out that persona here. The movie keeps you watching because you DO want to find out how Hopkins managed to hide one piece of evidence and the solution is very clever (and logical) -- but somehow the movie loses power and focus as it moves to the denouement.