The hot streak continues for Johnnie To. This director’s movies have probably shown up the most on my site than any other, and for good reason. A missing police pistol is connected to a series of recent heists and murders. Mad Detective is about cops and the investigation of crimes, but the complexity of its plot is just who these people are and what they are about to do. The missing officer’s partner is the obvious suspect but nobody has been able to turn up any sort of clue.
Direction lacks the strong hand of To’s solo efforts, and pic shows some signs of rush, with abrupt transitions and lack of flow in the editing. And to that effect, I would warrant a guess that some in the audience will be left perplexed and confused, but my advice is not to give up on it. Mad Detective may be a bit different from the other films I’m used to by Johnnie To but one thing that still held his signature is its great storytelling.
There are times when the pace flags just a little but by and large it achieves a fine balance between police drama and psychological thriller. What makes this film great is that it starts where most other films end. It gives you the big Shyamalan twist up front and then spends the next hour and a half trying to figure out what to do with it. What I admire about the movie, is how a simple idea can be branched into something complex, but yet within grasp, so hats off to the writing-directing team of To and Wai Ka Fai.
The story takes a number of clever twists, yet remains low-key in its overall tone, despite two or three well-executed action sequences that raise the adrenaline level. Mad Detective really is a fresh take on the Crime/Murder/Mystery genre. But while fresh is good, it’s not everything. This film succeeds in being smart and entertaining at the same time. After so many confident films from Johnnie To, it’s always refreshing to see one of his collaborations tackle the lighter side of cinema.