top of page


MARLOWE (2023)

Release Date: 02/15/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Studio: Open Road Films

"In late 1930's Bay City, a brooding, down on his luck detective is hired to find the ex-lover of a glamorous heiress." 


Philip Marlowe, the classic PI who is rough with words, hard on liquor, but surprisingly soft on dangerous blondes, has a cinematic history that is almost as long as his literary one. Created by author Raymond Chandler and played on the screen by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Elliot Gould, and Robert Mitchum, Marlowe never backs down from a fight but is clever enough to flex his cranial muscle as often as his biceps. 


The latest to put on the rumpled suit and crisp fedora is the Irish actor Liam Neeson in Marlowe, Irishman Neil Jordan’s adaptation of the 2014 novel "The Black-Eyed Blonde," by Irish author Benjamin Black. Erin go bragh anyone?


PI Marlowe is hired by femme fatale Clare Cavendish (Diane Kruger) to find a missing gigolo, who may or may not have been run over by a car outside an exclusive club. Other than hot lips and extra-marital excitement, said gigolo Nico Peterson (François Arnaud) has something Cavendish wants - as do a lot of other people. That is, people with fists, razor blades, and guns. Marlowe gets pulled into the familiar world of drug and sex trafficking, led by tuxedoed Floyd Hanson (performed by the always-great Danny Huston), and tries to find the goods, expose the baddies, and maybe even get paid. 


Marlowe might look good with its neon signs and smokey rooms, yet this detective movie is as diffused as its film noir-stylized shadows and as watered down as a cheap margarita. Marlowe never promotes an overriding sense of danger. For as evil as Hanson is told to be, and as much as Huston might ham up the role, he is never shown to be truly evil. The corruption of sex, drugs, and big band swing lies mostly offscreen. Outside of punching and fighting, an element Neeson’s physicality is made for, Marlowe is not terribly violent either. Fortunately, Marlowe is packed with an incredible supporting cast including Colm Meaney, Alan Cumming, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.


Perhaps some of the movie’s irregularity lies with the production being held in Ireland and Spain. Although featuring art deco buildings, tight wooden rooms, and the occasional palm tree, Ireland and Spain are worlds away from the shadows and stars of Los Angeles. And this foreignness can be sensed throughout. 


Marlowe also suffers some bad editing. There are no transitions between scenes and settings. These hard cuts are jarring and often confusing. Chandler’s Marlowe is known for taking long smoke breaks and longer drives. He ponders. He thinks. Jordan’s Marlowe has Neeson jumping from point to point like a Millennial OD-ing on Halo

However, Marlowe does follow through on PI tropes. Jordan and Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan make good use of their cliches as the conventions of fisticuffs and tommy-guns give way. Marlowe is an adequate entry into that hard world of PIs who beat the mean streets of … Barcelona.

image0 (4)_edited.jpg


bottom of page