Case Number 23158: Small Claims Court


Anchor Bay // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 19th, 2012

The Charge

No one is safe.

The Case

In the Easy-Bake Oven that is Texas, a pair of hard-working detectives are faced with a difficult decision: a serial killer has been dumping the bodies of young girls in a swamp called "The Killing Fields," but the crime scene is out of their jurisdiction. Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Losers), a transplanted New York cop, is eager to soften the jurisdiction boundaries and tear into the case. His partner, Detective Souder (Sam Worthington, Avatar) is reluctant, convinced Heigh needs to tone down his lone wolf attitude and stick to protocol.

Thins get disturbingly personal when the killer begins targeting those close to the detectives and eventually the detectives themselves. This dead end investigation becomes very much alive, and someone is going to get theirs in that soggy swamp.

What to make of Texas Killing Fields? I can tell you that I was all set to embrace this under-the-radar crime endeavor. In fact, after the first act, I felt sure I had stumbled onto one of those hidden jewels that are so rewarding to excavate. Alas, the film runs out of steam about the halfway through, as saggy pacing bleeds out the tension, leaving the enterprise limping towards a conclusion that should have been a lot more badass.

It's certainly not Morgan or Worthington's fault. As a tough-guy actor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan delivers. He might be the most macho character actor working today (besides Nick Offerman, natch) injecting healthy amounts of testosterone and five o'clock shadow into everything he does. Here, he's gruff and all, but turns out to be the more sensitive of the two. Morgan is counterbalanced by some good work from Sam Worthington, a notoriously wooden actor. Given plenty of leash to turn up the juice, Worthington chews on a sweet Texas accent and turns in his best performance to date...or at least the most memorable.

And yet I can't help but feel their fine efforts have been largely wasted. The mystery behind Texas Killing Fields just doesn't measure up to the detectives investigating it, and the reveal of the bad guy(s?) proves to be anti-climactic and predictable. Even worse, the denouement is a complete cop-out, leaving those of us expecting a crackling resolution nothing but hot and bothered.

Anchor Bay delivers a solid Blu-ray, headlined by a stark 2.40:1/1080p high definition transfer, which projects the sand-blasted, super-heated milieu nicely. Even more appreciated than the high-end picture quality is a living breathing 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio mix, an increasingly rare sight in this supposedly next-gen reality. The only extras are a director's commentary and a trailer.

The Verdict

What could have been a great slice of Texas crime noir stumbles and face-plants. Bummer.

Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 7.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* Spanish

Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Trailer

* IMDb

* Official Site