Ed Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Sergeant Remy Bressant in Gone Baby Gone.
of a little girl who is none too happy to have to aid private investigator Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) who has been hired also to follow the case. This sort of role fits right into Ed Harris's wheelhouse as Ed Harris is always good at being a colossal ball buster. He does well in establishing Sergeant Bressant's attitude toward Patrick in a believable fashion. Although there are revelations about his character later on that paint a fuller picture about Bressant's motivations there's no need to question him at first because of Harris's performance. Harris presents acerbic attitude quite effectively as it does not seem too much by any means. Harris gives the right sense that Bressant simply not being impressed by the young man, and frankly just does not have any time for him. Harris creates the sense of the sort of cop Bressant is in these early scenes. There's an obvious wear that Harris effortlessly conveys in Bressant due to his time of dealing with the worst scum, that while it does not necessarily fully excuse the way he treats Patrick, it certainly allows one to understand why he treats him that way.
Harris's performance works well as a contrast to Affleck's performance, as it seems Bressant is possibly the man that Patrick could become as he is also changed by the murky world the investigation brings him through. Harris gives a needed bluntness to his scenes as he basically has Bressant state the apparent truths without sentiment, while Affleck carefully carries a more overt sentiment around the problems in the case. Harris is careful though not to portray as though Bressant has lost his humanity or anything near that. Harris also has a strong emotional quality to his work but he carefully shows how it differs from the certain hopefulness Affleck brings to Patrick. Harris is indeed most often a bit callous in the way he presents Bressant attitude, but when a moment forces something out of him there definitely something there. Instead any any idea of hope though Harris instead brings a particularly vicious hatred in disgust into Bressant for the developments of the case, as though he has no reason to have any hopes since he is well aware of the world that he lives in.
Harris's best scene is probably after Patrick's sort of proved himself to Bressant, by doing something that seems to support Bressant's own world view. Harris is very good in the scene as he let's go of his more acerbic tendencies and Harris reveals in all earnestness what motivates Bressant. There is a concern that Harris reveals and shows that he's not way just some simple mean cop. The film has its twist take in place though and Bressant takes many extreme measures to try cover what it is that he did. Harris is good in these scenes because he does not make Bressant seem to suddenly become some psychotic villain, even though he does have to wear a clown mask at one point. Harris is good in these scenes because he also loses any of that dark levity that is found in his early scenes. Harris presents Bressant as being especially concerned in these scenes, and reveals that in the Bressant was too entranced into the case for his own well being as a cop and a man. This is a good performance that manages to realizes his character in a way that gives some understanding to the twist, but never gives it away either.
As the investigation progresses and a break through seems to appear the Captain get directly involved with it, as he attempts to make Patrick and the other detectives do things his way. Freeman again seems to intentionally has a certain falseness about the Captain, as though he is overly trying to show his concerns to those around him. Freeman has shown before he certainly knows how to do passion when he needs to but Freeman gives a falseness to it here. Now it is true that a twist works best for the film as a whole if it is set up, so even though you get tricked by it the first time, when you watch the film again the film still works since you know can see what brought the twist together. Gone Baby Gone's twist is problematic to begin with since it seems a bit odd that three seasoned police officers are going to put so much on the line just to help one guy who wants a better life for his niece, and if Doyle wanted another kid so badly he could just adopt. Even with its ridiculousness Freeman telegraphs it too much with his performance by not creating an sense of false security with his character. Freeman always plays every moment as too much of a confrontation, and with far too many oddly fake moments in there.
Harris throws in a few slight instances where he alludes to the fact that Bressant knows a bit more than he is telling Patrick, but these one's are only really noticeable after already knowing the twist. Freeman puts too many in for his own good as he sets up the twist, but goes too far giving it away at the same time. It would have likely been far more effective if Freeman did play into making the Captain as respected, as the film claims he is, but Freeman never creates the illusion making his fall from grace carry far less of an impact than it should have. Freeman's best scene is when the act is wholly dropped and he tries to argue with Patrick the morality of his needlessly complex method of avoiding filing adoption papers. Although probably have some forging done for his plan anyways, but I'm getting off topic. Interestingly enough Freeman is far less confrontational in this scene than in his earlier ones, but this actually works much better as he finally seems to make his character genuine in the least. It's a good scene for Freeman as he finally delivers the passion that motivates the character in an honest fashion. It's fine end but as a whole Freeman's approach is a miscalculation that severely undermines what I assume was the point of the character.