Detectives Souder and Heigh (Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are two Texas City cops investigating a string of killings whose female victims wind up dumped in a bayou inconveniently outside the police's jurisdiction. Director Ami Canaan Mann, a TV vet (and daughter of Michael), has a touch with procedural scenes, but the behind-the-badge home life sections in her Texas Killing Fields are rather less accomplished, thanks in part to the actors: Worthington's botched accent often makes him sound more like the transplanted New Yorker that glum Morgan is supposed to be playing, and one often wishes they'd both clear out to make room for more of Jessica Chastain, here as a detective from a neighboring township with an Annie Oakley complex after a lifetime of dealing with surly good ol' boys. The plot is a chaos of underdeveloped relationships and frayed loose ends, but every so often, Mann does something so right that it makes this seem less a matter of narrative disorganization than a commentary on the anarchy intrinsic to any investigation. This applies particularly to the nonresolution of the manhunt, when the detectives' program of revenge-justice is ruined by a spontaneous combustion of domestic violence, with Stephen Graham, Sheryl Lee, and James Hébert—all very fine—as the immolating dysfunctional “family.”
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