The Pale Blue Eye aims for greatness but dwells in the mundane

by Gordon Shelly

The Pale Blue Eye is largely a procedural detective story with Christian Bale’s fictional and troubled detective, Augustus Landor, working with the soon-to-be famous Edgar Allan Poe, who is portrayed wonderfully by Harry Melling. The two are working together to unravel a series of grotesque crimes involving West Point cadets in the 19th century.

The acting is superb in this Netflix original, not just from the lead actors but from a strong supporting cast as well.

The story kicks into gear after another cadet is found hanged, presumably murdered in the nearby woods. Shortly thereafter, the corpse has its heart removed. Landor is asked to solve the crime quickly and quietly. He enlists Cadet Poe to be his inside man and help find the killer.

Director Scott Cooper paints a dark and foreboding atmosphere and the story borders on the supernatural at points. Additionally, as Poe lends his unique viewpoint to Landor, we see the catalyst for some of his great works of literature.

While The Pale Blue Eye does its best to trick and misdirect the viewer, it ultimately remains predictable and too long.

There is a detective story within the detective story and while Cooper wants nothing to appear as it seems, it does just that. The obvious become the answer and even the twist ending is no surprise.

In its attempt to be a fantastical detective story, it never achieves beyond the mundane.

Gordo’s Grade: B-