For a city of over a million people and so many passionate cinemagoers, movies about crime in Dublin are still an all-too-rare thing. While writer-director Brendan Muldowney's revenge thriller 'Savage' isn't perfect, it gets a lot of things right. Those who get that feeling of dread walking home in the small hours alone or waiting for a bus at night with just their own fear for company may even rethink their habits after watching it. Hopefully.
Freelancer photographer Paul Graynor (Healy) makes a good living, has a nice home and the possibility of a romance with Michelle (Noone), the nurse who looks after his father. But Paul's world is ripped to shreds walking home after a night out.
Dragged into an alley, he is robbed, beaten and tortured.
After his ordeal Paul's physical and mental scars knit together, with pain, terror, anger and isolation all shrinking him until the only thing that seems to matter is getting even. He shaves his head, joins a gym, takes self-defence classes and buys weapons but nothing ever seems to be enough and soon he's prowling the streets at night, looking for the duo who took away his life.
Powered by an excellent performance from Healy, 'Savage' recreates the smog of intimidation and violence that can descend over a city and makes you ask yourself if you would fare any better than Paul in coping. Full of washed out colours and split into the sections 'Fear', 'Control', 'Anger' and 'Revenge', we see a shy and kind man lose his sense of self-worth, lash out at others and do more damage to himself than even his attackers manage. It's always uneasy viewing and the belief that things are going to end very, very badly for Paul spreads through your chest with every scene.
When the finale does arrive it's rushed and arguably too over-the-top for what has preceded it, but Muldowney shows he's someone who can work on a tight budget, get very convincing performances from his actors and give his audience a lot to think about.
No easy answers but one truth: be careful.