Director David Cronenberg here foregoes conceptual horror in favor of a tight character piece of tension and mystery. In his other best role, Viggo Mortensen smolders in this film noir about an everyman whose life wrenches unmoored.
The film is based loosely off of the graphic novel by writer John Wagner (co-creator of Judge Dredd) and artist Vince Locke. The basic plot and general elements of the crime thriller are reinterpreted in thematic variations and key changes. This is one of the rare examples in graphix-based films where going off-book actually succeeds as a strong work of its own. (In general, love the medium or leave the project.)
Many successful of films of all styles are being based on graphic novels without the public realizing it. This movie joins other eclectic wayposts like From Hell, Ghost World, The Road to Perdition, Art School Confidential, 300, 30 Days of Night, Oblivion (unpublished), Red, Scott Pilgrim, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Kingsmen, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Just as many classic films were based on short stories from magazines, the mature range of graphic novels has become a new wellspring for cinema.