Joe Connolly (Graham Earley) has just gotten out of jail and in no time at all, his friends Wallace (John Connors) and Pete (Ryan Lincoln) are tempting him back into the world of crime. Joe’s brother Dave (Tristan Heanue) is an honest and respected member of the Garda Síochána and they have become estranged. But Dave is loyal to his brother and hides Joe when he gets in trouble following a botched robbery. Dave is also aware he can only protect him for so long.
‘Broken Law’ starts off upbeat enough in tone as, following his release from prison, Joe goes on the lash with his friends, as fun, debauchery and trouble-making soon follow. It’s a very Irish movie in its set-up and dialogue, as the gardaí complain about rent prices and the shtick they’re forced to put up with. You just know that the tension between a degenerate and law enforcer brother is bound to come to a head. But there’s humour as well as drama, in fairness, such as in the scene where the brothers share a joint as they engage in a sweet and funny conversation.
You’ve got the overly worried, widowed mammy (Ally Ni Chiarain), the good boy in Dave and ex-convict bold boy in Joe, and John Connors makes for a credibly threatening antagonist with a strong presence. A love interest for Dave emerges from the armed robbery attempt in Amia, played by Gemma-Leah Devereux, which is a somewhat surreal and uncomfortable plot development. Moreover, while it can get quite gruesome and violent, there are several moments of ‘Broken Law’ that are unexpectedly touching and light-hearted.
The quality of acting and script are very good for what is evidently quite a low budget project (writer-director Paddy Slattery funded it via a crowd-funding initiative on Indiegogo). The film can lean a bit too much into clichés with such lines as "I can't believe we've only known each other a week", "so is it true?" and "What was I supposed to do?" But for the most part, it works and is enjoyable, the relationship between the two brothers and performances proving crucial.