Jack James’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's alright you can go, you were never really here
I remember the first time I watched this film in my local cinema, I was in complete awe.
This has remained a polarised film among my friend group and whilst I see why people don't like it, the reasons they often list are the very same reasons that make it such a compelling masterpiece. It subverts all expectations, whilst simultaneously offering exactly what was advertised. It is about a brutal "Hammer for hire" who tears through the underworld of child sex trafficking without remorse. It is an uneasy, unflinching film that leaves you sweating and your heart racing. It's just not in the conventional sense that you're used to.
Taken deep into the psyche of a mentally unstable mercenary suffering from PTSD, haunted by jolted flashbacks to abuse at the hand of his father, you experience how a Web of conspiracies and loose ends leads this man to lose everything and spiral out of control, as you spiral with him.
With the majority of the violence happening off screen, only the sound of the hammer bludgeoning skulls to imply the brutality of this man, little glimpses in rotating security cameras as they cut just before impact, it doesn't take away from the sheer brutality this man is capable of.
Jonny Greenwood's outstanding score enhances each scene, each emotion that is meant to play out. In particular during the Water Burial Scene, which moved me to tears upon my first viewing and still overwhelms me with emotions. That scene alone is so beautiful and heartbreaking, the cinematography and Greenwood's Tree Strings elevate that to new heights of immersion.
Everything you have heard about the film will be flipped on its head and dissected further than you could imagine.