Colby Cutler (Brendan Gleeson) is the king of the travelers – he reigns over a small trailer enclave and the thieves who live there. They’re constantly suspected by the local police, who are usually right to suspect them. That doesn’t stop them from pulling stupid shit – they are bold and brave and not too smart. And they mostly get away with what they do, except that Colby’s got one son in prison and he seems ready to lose another to the system as well.
Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is not as pleased with his father’s way of life. He sends his kids to school, a luxury he was never afforded. But as long as he’s living among his father’s little gang (and his father’s enormous shadow), he’s stuck. Saving his own son from a similar fate would mean trespassing against his father and the clan, and they’re not about to let him go easily.
Michael Fassbender is excellent. We see him pulled in so many directions – husband, father, son – all seemingly opposing. And as an uneducated man, he is in fact most skilled at being a thief. What kind of life lies for him beyond that? Brendan Gleeson, on the other hand, manages to straddle the paternal with the more menacing. He’s also got a religious streak that seems to elevate him within the clan to Father status with a big F. It’s an awful lot of fun to see these two share screen time together, even if I could have used some subtitles to make sense of their strong accents and impermeable slang.
In his directorial debut, Adam Smith doesn’t rely much on plot. The tensions between father and son escalate but don’t necessarily drive the film forward, because the feeling of Chad’s being paralyzed for lack of options is pervasive. His father’s expectations feel heavy. The movie comes up a little light in terms of this drama, but the action is loaded with fun at full-tilt.