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EvenHand Reviews

Reviewed By: Jason Buchanan

Occupying a peculiar plane somewhere between Super Troopers and Training Day, director Joseph Pierson's compelling exploration of the more monotonous aspects of life as a police officer succeeds on many levels, thanks to a solid screenplay, memorable performances, and a unique approach to life on the beat. Both a revealing and original view of law enforcement, the film captures the sensory-dulling repetition of life as a small-town cop, and balances that with enough humorous moments and wonderful, telling details of character development to draw in viewers without making them consciously realize how much they are beginning to care for the characters. Though Evenhand is certainly by no means what one would refer to as a "comedy," Pierson's frequent use of humor serves well to both endear and disarm viewers, making the more weighty moments all the more effective. If, as stated in the film, people really do hate cops or view them as little more than badge-carrying bullies with a power complex, Mike Jones' smart script effectively conveys that the conflict and emotional baggage brought on by a life in law enforcement can have a hardening effect on even the most caring and devoted "peace officer." While, in some respects, comparative to Training Day, Evenhand goes a step further by offering a cop (masterfully played by Bill Sage) who isn't simply a one-dimensional monster, but a deeply conflicted man who fears caring so much that he has built a near-impenetrable wall of sarcasm and aggressive authority between himself and the public. In the rare instance where Sage's character is forced to act with lethal force, the heavy toll that it takes on him is both unmistakable and devastating. Standing in stark contrast, Bill Dawes' endearing portrayal of the idealistic transfer who gets teamed with Sage's weatherworn cop isn't just a fresh-faced newcomer eager to prove himself, but a conflicted divorcé whose self-doubt threatens to consume both his caring disposition and his entire career. Director Pierson has stated that more shots are fired in the average action scene of the typical police drama than in the entire running time of Evenhand -- in which only 11 shots are fired -- and this, no doubt, has a strong impact of the film's human drama. By focusing not only on the acts of the characters but also on the repercussions that follow, and backing those actions up with endearing, subtle character nuances, Pierson delivers a sadly neglected indie police drama that truly deserves more attention than it received.