Think: a dying man, horribly disfigured by innumerable incisions criss-crossing his face, pleading to be killed because the agony inflicted by young, cold-eyed killer Victor Kelly is so intense. Hold onto that image. In this film you'll see it a lot.
This is a grim movie. Relentlessly grim. It's not just the acts of extreme violence which turn the stomach. To Kelly's slash there is always Ryan's hack, an unlikable bloke who beats his wife and slobbers around crime scenes looking for story-making evidence of torture by knife. It creates a problem which is all too familiar with this brand of thriller: there are no heroes to cheer, just bad guys, worse guys, and victims.
As a result, Resurrection Man is not much fun to watch. There's nobody who you can sympathise with, and the atmosphere is so gloomy it reduces potentially interesting characters to mere shades of grey, robbing them almost entirely of depth and interest. Townsend's Kelly has some degree of charisma - he's handsome, sharply dressed, and struts around like a '70s version of James Cagney. But he's an evil nutter, apparently without motive.
The only truly remarkable thing about this film is Brenda Fricker, playing Kelly's hard-faced ma, Dorcas. She turns in a deeply sinister performance as a woman who teases her invalid husband while spoonfeeding him, and loves her son almost to the point of incest. But this aside, Resurrection Man offers little more than pain, drudgery and dark, rainy streets, lacking the rich dialogue and plot twists which made, say, Se7en such a feast. No doubt manic depressives will flock to it.
Top marks for atmospheric nastiness and wince-inducing knife antics, but the bottom line is that Resurrection Man doesn't cut it as a fulfilling movie experience. This is a thriller which needs more thrills and less blood-spills.