Writer-director Yuri Bykov’s The Major is a tense, handheld police thriller filled with scores of dirty cops, scenes of abrupt violence and a relentless, overriding sense of nastiness.

Set within a single 24-hour period, the action kicks off with commander Sergey Sobolev (Denis Shvedov) racing his SUV across icy country roads to join his wife, who’s giving birth at a clinic. Along the way, his car skids into a 7-year-old boy, killing him instantly. But rather than calling an ambulance, Sobolev takes the kid’s wailing mother Irina (Irina Nizina) hostage and phones a fellow officer, Pasha (Ilya Isaev), to clean up the mess. What follows is one very long day of unethical policing, as Sobolev and Pasha try to cover up the accident in order to save the ‘integrity’ of their department.

Filmed with lots of gritty, over-the-shoulder camerawork, The Major is mostly a well-paced and directed affair. The performances are keyed up all the way through, with Nizina particularly explosive as the tormented mom and Isaev slick and scary as the ruthless, ball-busting Pasha.

Jordan Mintzer
The Hollywood Reporter


Winner, Best Feature Film & Best Director, Shanghai International Film Festival