As a quick note – I’m reviewing the US release of the film. The European Union cut of the film is several minutes longer and is the director’s vision for how the film would turn out.
The way that crime thrillers and mysteries have been adapted to the big screen has kind of changed over the years, more or less. While TV series like Peter Gunn and Bones try (and succeed) to provide a “knowledge chain” sort of like a chain of custody, where the audience has access to the same pieces of evidence that the people investigating the crime(s) has, and they see how the conclusions are drawn, and they usually figure out who solved the crime around the same time the detective does. Films, and in particular In the Electric Mist, don’t do it that way.
The film follows Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux (played by Tommy Lee Jones). While he investigates the brutal murder of a prostitute, he comes upon (with the help of an actor in town as part of a movie shoot), the body of a black man he saw murdered when he was a young man. Robicheaux decides to investigate both the new murder and the old murder at the same time.
My main complaint with the film is how it handles the investigation. To be specific, the film gives some lip service to the first murder (and subsequent related murders) in the first half to three quarters of the film, and then it casually forgets about it, focusing on the murder that Robicheaux witnessed as a young man. I don’t have a problem with the movie spending time on the older murder. What I do have a problem with is that the movie forgets about the big series of murders. The film establishes that there are at least a dozen murders related to the one that’s started at the beginning of the film (possibly making it a serial), and the film lets it slide. We do get some vague, possible closure over who might have done those murders, but it’s not satisfactory.
On the good side, the film’s acting is excellent, particularly Tommy Lee Jones’ performance as Robicheaux. Jones does an excellent job getting across the character’s emotional torment over certain plot points (which I won’t get into), without overacting.
When all’s said and done though, I can’t recommend a purchase of this film. It’s an enjoyable film to watch, but I wouldn’t buy it. However, I would recommend giving the film a rental, if you come across it in a RedBox, or in a video store, or on Amazon VOD, or it pops up as a Netflix recommendation.