Damaged Review

Samuel L Jackson chews a ton of scenery in this crime thriller, but little else fails to captivate in what’s sure to be a polarizing film.

Damaged review

PLOT:  Dan Lawson, a Chicago detective, travels to Scotland to link up with Scottish Det. Boyd, following the resurgence of a serial killer whose crimes match an unsolved case that he looked into 5 years previous in Chicago.

REVIEW: Ever since David Fincher’s Se7en, I’ve been a fan of the simple premise of a detective hunting down a serial killer. This game of cat and mouse allows for just the right amount of mystery and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the end. I’d argue the big reveal at the end is nearly as synonymous with crime thrillers as cops and criminals. If there’s one thing a good mystery needs, it’s something unexpected. And Damaged certainly has that.

The story follows Detective Lawson (Samuel L. Jackson) as he travels to Scotland to help with a case. Someone is recreating the murders that Lawson investigated back in Chicago five years prior, so he’s been asked to help. It’s nice to see Jackson in a lead role after mostly being relegated to side roles in Marvel Cinema for years. But I’d argue that the filmmakers are still being a bit deceptive as it’s more of Gianni Capaldi’s movie. Also, do not be fooled by Vincent Cassell’s high billing and prominent placement on the poster. He has a fairly small role that only really comes into play in the second half.

Damaged, Samuel L. Jackson

Jackson inhabits a role that really clashes with his Nick Fury persona, so that’s a breath of fresh air. He’s an alcoholic who has clearly let the world get the best of him. It’s not to the quality of his Tarantino work, but seeing him get a bit grittier is nice. Funnily enough, this almost feels like an extension of his character from Spiral. And shoutout to John Hannah, who shows up in a brief but memorable role.

I enjoy Terry McDonough’s work on TV, but it doesn’t translate well in this instance. The main issue is that it simply looks like a television show. There were many times that I felt like I was watching an episode of some CBS crime drama. The action feels very limited and lacking in energy. Conversely, I felt the more serial killer-focused elements were handled with a little more grace. Even if they did involve murder. Though, according to this movie, Scottish women cannot open the door to strangers in the middle of the night.

There’s not much in the way of hope either, as the police prove to be hilariously inept at even the simplest of tasks. They set a trap and then seem completely flummoxed when it doesn’t go perfectly to plan. It was interesting to see Detective Boyd pursue the bad guy with guidance from a drone. It’s a neat concept that provides some of the only unique action in the film. But most of the cop stuff is on the absurd side.

Vincent Cassel and Gianni Capaldi in Damaged (2024).

The ending featured a twist I did not see coming, as I thought they’d be taking a different approach. In fact, the ending is twist after twist. I could hardly catch my breath. And as a fan of Saw, I love a ridiculous twist ending, no matter how convoluted. And this one has fun with it. In fact, it made me rethink most of the film as it felt like Bond villain, and it clashed tremendously with the rest. However, I still question whether any of it was particularly good.

Damaged was a very strange experience overall. Sam Jackson is chewing so much scenery it makes me worried for his teeth, and I always love an appearance by Vincent Gallo. Unfortunately, the movie is too preoccupied with setting up twists so it doesn’t think about how it reflects upon the characters. Instead, they just end up comically stupid or maniacally smart. There’s not much of an in-between. I ended up enjoying it in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way, but I’m not sure others will feel the same.





About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.