As the father-son bond disintegrates, disturbing truths come to light — above all, that the boys are not Ray’s sons, but Jimmy’s. More secrets from the past are uncovered by local police investigating the death of a private detective who was snooping around the bar run by Ray and Kate. The arrival of a vengeful woman (Shirley Knight), whose life was ruined by Ray years earlier, brings retribution and the possibility of renewal.
Michael Boston’s script doesn’t lay enough tracks to keep the various plot strands smoothly on course: Ray’s mental and physical war injuries, the investigation into the detective’s death, Jimmy’s attempts to delve into his father’s past, and Jimmy’s disappearance and the efforts of his cop buddy (Tyrin Turner) and Traci to locate him. Many of these elements are introduced somewhat abruptly, and the lack of solid exposition robs certain events of their impact.
Cast generally is strong, especially Kinski and Phillippe, who fully convey the anxiety and fatigue of living under Ray’s reign of terror. Savage is suitably menacing, but perhaps less successful at letting in a hint of understanding for his shellshocked character in his more vulnerable moments. Tibaldi appears an able director of children in the scenes with Jimmy’s brothers.
Australian d.p. Ron Hagen, who shot Geoffrey Wright’s “Romper Stomper” and “Metal Skin,” gives the pic a cool, somber look, and Stewart Copeland’s moody score adds to the atmosphere.