Dir/scr: Bruce Sweeney. Canada. 2012. 79mins

The Crimes of Mike Recket

Crimes Of Mike Recket aspires to be a character study of a smiling sociopath, but this pulseless mystery-thriller displays neither the depth nor the complexity required. Saddled with indifferent performances and a supremely drab police-procedural structure, the film feels long at just under 80 minutes.

In the midst of its darker story, Crimes Of Mike Recket shifts tones by including lightly whimsical asides in which the cops investigating the disappearance.

Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Bruce Sweeney (Last Wedding, Excited), Crimes Of Mike Recket debuts at the Toronto Film Festival, but its small-scale drama might make it a better bet for pay cable or DVD. With surface similarities to the popular Law & Order television franchise, the film could cater to the same audience, although its slightly cockeyed take on the format may leave those viewers unsatisfied.

Near the beginning of Crimes Of Mike Recket, we learn that debt-ridden Vancouver realtor Mike Recket (Nicholas Lea) is being questioned by the police in connection to the disappearance of Leslie (Gabrielle Rose), an older local widow he swears he doesn’t know. But as a series of flashbacks soon prove, he had been pursuing a secret romantic relationship with Leslie in order to defraud her out of her house.

As played by Lea, Recket is meant to be a soulless shell so desperate to keep his head above water that he’ll go through with a disingenuous love affair in order to rob an innocent woman blind. At first, Sweeney’s decision to offer no explanation for Recket’s immoral behaviour is intriguing, but unfortunately Lea never manages to suggest an inner life for his character. As a result, Recket is a cipher without charisma or a compelling drive — his devious motives are as bland as his surface handsomeness.

Equally problematic, the flashbacks that show his and Leslie’s blossoming love inadequately illustrate precisely why a seemingly bright person would be seduced by Recket’s unsubtle come-ons, a narrative deficiency that robs the central crime of any sense of cruel betrayal or sharp cunning.

In the midst of its darker story, Crimes Of Mike Recket shifts tones by including lightly whimsical asides in which the cops investigating the disappearance (Paul Skrudland and Raphael Kepinski) aren’t exactly bumbling but also wouldn’t be confused with top-flight law enforcement. Sweeney seems to want to satirize the laser-like focus and keen intellect of police officers on cop shows and crime films, but the tepid comic situations and reserved performances conspire to create a humour vacuum — the movie starts to resemble a lobotomised version of a standard police drama.

In keeping with the film’s subpar execution, production values are merely adequate, with the muddy low-budget lensing in particular contributing to an overall impression that Crimes Of Mike Recket is put together with so-so ideas that might have worked better in more inspired hands.

 Production company: Carkner Films

Producers: Bruce Sweeney, Rafi Spivak

Executive producer: Kevin Eastwood

Cinematography: Filip Dobosz

Production design: Tony Devenyi

Editor: Rafi Spivak

Music: Dennis Burke

Website: http://www.facebook.com/CrimesofMike

Main cast: Nicholas Lea, Gabrielle Rose, Agam Darshi, Paul Skrudland, Raphael Kepinski, Jillian Fargey, Ryan McDonald, Tom Scholte