"Once in...There's no way out."
Texas Killing Fields had the potential to be one of those rare and memorable suspense thrillers that actually work; it had a strong cast, the cinematography was beautifully executed by Stuart Dryburgh creating a depressing atmosphere fitting the tone of the story, and an interesting premise. But somewhere along the way the execution didn't work and the film failed to live up to its potential. I can't say if it was the script or the editing, but the story felt incomplete and incoherent at times. Ami Canaan Mann, Michael Mann's daughter, failed to dig deeper into the storyline and the result was a sort of disjointed film. I still enjoyed the film for the atmosphere and suspense it was creating, but the two different story lines never seemed to be fully developed and I couldn't help but feel that something was left out in the editing floor. I kept on expecting more, but I was disappointed despite the solid performances. I'm a fan of gritty detective stories, and this film does succeed in being gritty and dark, but the detective elements of the story never added up. I'm currently watching the HBO series, True Detective, and that show absolutely gets everything that this movie didn't, right. Skip this film and watch True Detective instead.
Inspired by true events, Don Ferrarone wrote the screenplay about a series of murders taking place in the Texas Killing Fields. When the film opens we are introduced to Detectives Mike Sauder (Sam Worthington) and Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who are investigating a murder that took place near a gas station. Brian receives a call from Detective Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain) about a missing woman who she believes might be yet another victim of a serial killer who leaves the bodies of young girls in the abandoned Texas Killing Fields. Pam is Mike's ex-wife and Mike insists that they can't help her because those cases are out of their jurisdiction and they have to solve this case they are in now. However they still try to help out while working on their case. Brian is a loving father who takes an interest in a young girl named Ann (Chloe Grace Moretz) who comes from an abusive dysfunctional family, while Mike is more of a loner. Mike's clues lead him to investigate two local criminals (one of them played by Jason Clarke), while Brian is more focused on finding the serial killer in the dangerous Killing Fields.
Both investigations really caught my attention, but unfortunately one of them was kind of left out and forgotten at the end leaving me feeling a bit disappointed. The two main actors give solid performances, but their characters share the typical cliches found in other buddy cop films. Chastain is a seriously talented actress, but unfortunately her character didn't have much to work with. She has little screen time and is underused. I'm a huge fan of Chloe Grace Moretz and I have seen most of her films, but her character doesn't do much in this story either. None of the characters were developed too well and the film basically focused on the police procedural that began promising but got off track really quick by presenting two disjointed story lines. I can see how this film might work for some people because it has a talented cast, but I just felt it was a bit disjointed and incomplete. I'm still glad they made a film about this side of America that is usually not presented in Hollywood.