Uneven thriller follows the trail of a dead reporter who dug enough dirt to cancel a senator’s bid for the presidency.
With political fixer Joe DeMarco’s fourth case (House Rules, 2008, etc.), Lawson brings little change to the formula: covert plots, family secrets, clammed-up sources and suspicious deaths. Trying to find out why Washington Post reporter Terry Finley was apparently murdered, Joe learns the middling scribe may have hit on a career-making story. A list of phone numbers stashed (too) conveniently in Finley’s wallet leads Joe to several women who may have been sexually victimized by Senator Paul Morelli, the Democratic front-runner in the upcoming presidential election. Morelli may also be the puppet of someone referred to as “the old man.” Joe and his partner Emma cut to the chase, interviewing sources in quick, engaging scenes spiked with sharp lines. A big break comes (rather easily) when Morelli’s alcoholic wife informs Joe that the would-be president sexually molested her daughter from a previous marriage. After the wife talks, she’s murdered, and Joe is convinced Morelli planned the killing. To trap the senator, he hatches an incredibly transparent plot. Funded by the Republicans’ presidential front-runner, he hires a down-on-her-luck Hollywood actress to tempt Morelli to rough her up. Joe plants video cameras in her apartment and engages a cop to cuff Morelli as he puts the moves on the actress. That canny Morelli would fall for this amateurish setup is hard to swallow, but he does and it works, effectively ending his bid for the presidency. What later transpires noses the suspense back up for an over-the-top yet chilling finish.
Brisk pacing, some crisp scenes and a strong finish offset the been-there, done-that plot.