Det. Const. "Dangerous" Davies is not known for his finesse, but often finds himself on the receiving end of violence in various forms. Only thrown into cases where others fear to tread, or to shake up the natives with his bumbling, he is given a mission to find and flush out a local criminal recently returned from abroad, possibly for "a big job". In his research he inadvertently stumbles upon a 15 year-old case, long considered cold, of the disappearance a young girl. His compassion for the missing girl and her parents draws him into an obsession with solving the case, which ultimately results in unexpected repercussions. Written by
Initial caption in opening credits: "This is the story of a man who became deeply concerned with the unsolved murder of a young girl. He was a born stumbler, but patient and very dogged...". See more »
In some respects this film feels really dated. Not surprising, given that (at the time of writing) it is 25 years old, and that (without giving anything away) the events the film revolves around took place another 15 years before that. It lacks the polish that overwhelmed the British film industry a decade later, but the end result is still watchable and in its own way fascinating. There are elements of almost slapstick comedy, but at the same time there are much darker themes.
Being more used to the ITV television series starring Peter Davidson, the casting of Bernard Cribbins as the lead character was at first a little jarring, but then as you get into the film it becomes clear that he was possibly the ideal choice. For one thing you get a much better understanding of Det. Constable Davies ironic nickname of "Dangerous" and the title "The Last Detective". He's a bumbling fool (or so his colleagues think), who only gets sent into a situation either as a last resort or as cannon-fodder to save the bruises of his fellow officers. Nevertheless, beneath his haphazard demeanour is a man obsessed, and with a combination of dogged - almost pig-headed - determination, keener observation than he is credited with by those around him he finds solutions to a case lesser officers have left long cold, and deemed irrelevant by his obstructive superiors.
Cribbins' portrayal of Davies leaves you understanding him as a man with a heart, determined to find justice for a long-forgotten victim. In some respects this has become a cliché in British police and crime drama, but unlike contemporary dramatisations this character is perfectly capable of callous brutality when he believes the recipient no longer worthy of consideration. The plot relies on a few awkward contrivances to create links in the chain of detection, but overall it's a surprisingly satisfying film.
I wouldn't say this film deserves a "family" categorisation, except with elder teenage children.
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