Ian Bannen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Kenneth Baxter in The Offence.
Ian Bannen plays the chief suspect of the crime of raping a young girl as he is found wandering aimlessly the same night. Ian Bannen just has a few moments early on the film as he naturally portrays the somewhat dazed state of the man as he is taken in. The film then cuts bluntly to Connery's Johnson beating Baxter in the interrogation room. Bannen again only has few moments though rather viscerally striking ones as he portrays Baxter writhing in pain along with some crazed hysteria as Johnson continues attacking him. Baxter is later taken to the hospital and later revealed to have died from his injuries as the film focuses on the personal fallout of Johnson as he deals with his personal demons. Bannen though is not wholly absent from the film during this period as it does occasionally cut to the past scene although in these instances only for a second or two. Eventually though as Johnson examines himself the film does finally does cut back to the interrogation in an extended scene. This time it focuses directly on what happened between the two before Johnson beat the man to death in anger.
This scene finally calms down in terms of editing as Bannen is given his one major scene. This time the film follows the calm opening of the interrogation as Johnson at first seems to just try to find out if Baxter is guilty or not. Bannen is good in the opening of the scene suggesting his earlier daze comes from the innate fearful nature of the man. Bannen expresses well Baxter as being clearly a victim of sorts himself as he sadly states his own past of being bullied and Bannen does well to realize the damaged state of the man as he reveals information about himself. Bannen does particularly well to keep the guilt in question as he begins to needle Johnson and the honestly messy state that Bannen portrays in a convincing manner in Baxter. He leaves open to the interpretation of whether Baxter is doing this to Johnson because he views him like a bully of his past, or he is merely taunting him because he knows he committed the crime. Johnson acts out in violence against Baxter's disobedience and Bannen has one particularly strong scene where he basically retires away from Johnson for a moment as shows a genuine fear in Baxter as Johnson reveals his violent side.
The final act of the scene though comes in though as Johnson looks in upon himself and wonders about his own psyche due to how much he has seen. In this moment Baxter becomes almost an odd sort of psychiatrist to Johnson as he strangely comforts him. This is where the writing though falters a bit as Baxter becomes this sinister presence that keeps on prodding Johnson in really too refined of a fashion that feels more like a villain than the broken individual we meet at first. To his credit though Bannen tries his best to make this work, although I won't say he wholly succeeds, although that was perhaps too much of a challenge. Bannen does not truly falter though as even when Baxter is probably saying things that are a tad too incisive for the way the rest of his character is, Bannen carefully never loses the persuasive anxiety within the character, though he still is unable to meld the two conflicting sides presented by the writing. Bannen nevertheless is not bad in these scenes i just does not leave the character as on a powerful note as seem intentioned. The impact of the character is diminished when he unfortunately he is at his pivotal. Bannen still gives a very good performance though the writing seems to prevent him from giving a great one.