Although he was a mostly despicable chap, Jon Hamm owes quite a lot to Don Draper, the character he played for seven seasons on the critically- acclaimed, award-winning Mad Men.
In fact, many of the actors owe a lot to their roles in that successful show, including Elisabeth Moss, January Jones and Jared Harris.
John Slattery played his boss Roger Sterling, who mentored him through the world of advertising.
The two actors must have gotten along for all those years, as Slattery once again takes on the boss role for Hamm, this time in the capacity of being this film’s director, which sees Hamm play a cop investigating a series of peculiar murders.
Running a franchise of Castle Subs in Buckland County, New Mexico is Jay Moore (Micah Stock). In order to save some money, he gets his less than fresh produce from rogue Tommy T (Derek Basco). In exchange for cheap cheese and meats, Tommy gets Jay to look after some illegal photos that include minors.
One day, Jay’s wife Maggie (Louisa Krause) discovers these photos, and hits the roof, threatening to take them to the cops if he doesn’t get out of their house. Panicked that she will, Jay wants a way for her not to do that. Of course Tommy T knows someone, who will put the fear of god into her, and Jay finally agrees.
Unfortunately, the guy he hires does a lot more than that, and his wife Maggie is soon no more.
When her body turns up, it then becomes a matter for police chief Jordan Sanders (Hamm) and his deputy Reddy (Nick Mohammed), with the story making the news.
This freaks Jay out, who does the worse thing possible, by over-complicating the issue, and digging himself an even bigger hole, with an outrageous ploy. But can Buckland County’s finest officers solve the crime?
This is Slattery’s follow up to his directorial debut, 2014’s God’s Pocket, which had an exceptional cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro and Mad men alumnus Christina Hendricks. He doesn’t too badly here either, with a strong, albeit eclectic cast.
This is a crime drama laced with both dark humour and romance, which shouldn’t necessarily work, but it does, really rather well.
You have the bizarre nature of the crimes themselves, which are inspired by real life events, which proves that fact really is stranger than fiction.
And then you have Hamm’s Sanders, who still hasn’t come to terms with the death of his wife over a year ago. He has two major relationships within the film, one with his deputy, and one with a neighbour of the Moore’s, Rita, played by Tina Fey, who does well playing the damaged love interest.
Mohammed, who has made a name for himself having starred in Ted Lasso - and less so for being Mr Swallow - makes an excellent sidekick, who somehow gets away with an English accent throughout, garnishing his relationship with quirky humour.
At times it has a pace of a TV show, which is no bad thing, even with characters you’d be happy to see on a regular basis. But Slattery steps up the gears with a surprisingly effective finale.
It does feel like it’s a film that throws a bit too much into the same pot, with its crime/rom-com credentials, but under Slattery’s assured direction, it makes for both a curious and entertaining concoction.