Corruption runs yet again all the way to the top – but this even-paced, overlong Polish thriller barely musters a shrug about it, let alone sell Baltic port Gydnia as a kind of James Ellroy-esque helltown. Discharged from the force after being raped on a stakeout, tough-nut cop Kaja (Marta Nieradkiewicz) is lured back to the coast by the Central Bureau of Investigation to help bring down drug baron Kawecki (Andrzej Seweryn). The silver-fox plutocrat has mastered the art of hiding in plain sight: the well-to-do head of the Solid Gold bank, he launders his money through a posh restaurant and butters up Warsaw politicians for favours.
Director Jacek Bromski manages the curious combination of being both too impatient to push his case and too slow to make us care. The initial sexual assault, a series of attention-drawing murders, Kawecki’s dealers later bringing their takings directly to the bank – either Gydnia’s criminal class are completely foolhardy, or the plausibility police need to have a closer look at Bromski’s script. At the same time, he seems only half-interested in Kaja, who starts out loaded with Lisbeth Salander attitude, kickboxing a wine-bar creep to the ground, until the story meanders away from her.
Bromski’s preoccupations belatedly turn out to be more wintry. Only generating intermittent heat from the investigation itself, his focus shifts to whether – given the political interests on whose toes it treads – the investigation will take place at all. Here, Kaja’s seasoned boss Nowicki (played with crinkled, phlegmatic reserve by Kieslowski regular Janusz Gajos) takes the reins. He indicts Kawecki’s “dictatorial” lust for power, but admits to Kaja that, in his eagerness to nail the businessman, he has become a dictator himself. There is tragedian’s meat here – but Bromski never fully carves it up.
• Solid Gold is released in the UK on 6 December.