On his retirement, a Nevada detective (Jack Nicholson) promises a mother that he will catch her child’s killer.

Director Sean Penn makes a grand job of this dark and sombre, character-driven and heart-rending tragedy and Nicholson gives it his all with a precise, reined-in performance that’s one of his best.

Unconvinced of the guilt of a Native American (Benicio Del Toro) who has seemingly confessed to the crime, Nicholson becomes increasingly obsessed with catching the real killer.

Taking a job running a rural gas station, he detects a link between the murder and previous killings of girls and sets out to prove it.

Settling down near the scene of the crime, he patiently waits for the mystery murderer’s next move and befriends young mum Robin Wright Penn and her eight-year-old daughter.

Wright Penn does well with her angst-ridden role and Pauline Roberts is cute as her daughter – but this is Nicholson’s show all the way.