In the last three years or so Sam Worthington's career has skyrocketed from playing a robot killer in "Terminator Salvation" to a space-age fly boy in "Avatar" to the son of a god in "Clash of the Titans" to an Israeli assassin in "The Debt". he has been smart enough to avoid the lure of the mindnumbing rom-com... at least for now.


His latest flick finds him in Texas City, Texas doing police work as Detective Mike Souder and trying to avoid his ex-wife. The latter is more difficult that the former when he is reeled into a series of murders that fall outside his jurisdiction but become of interest to his partner.


His partner is a transplanted New York cop name Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who thought he was going to have an easy time in this much smaller town but quickly finds himself in the middle of a series of grizzly murders of girls. The one pushing him into the case is Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain), Souder's ex-wife.

The area where the bodies are being found are in her jurisdiction, but her force doesn't have the manpower nor technology to solve this kind of case.


So what we get is a serial killer police procedural with a northerner sticking is nose into country-folks business.


A subplot has a little girl named Little Anne Sliger (Chloe Grace Moretz) from a troubled home, getting into hot water. She quickly finds sympathy from Detective Heigh, especially when he see's the environment she lives in. Her mother is a prostitute turning tricks for drugs and other favors. She keeps the company of two shady looking characters, her brother Eugene (James Hebert) and his friend Rhino (Stephen Graham). They are, to stupid to live.


A sub-character named Rule (Jason Clarke) becomes affiliated with them and is a real bad ass. He immediately becomes suspect number one for the murders.

Director Ami Canaan Mann does an excellent job defining the characters up to a certain point then leaving you to your own imaginatio, though you may already have figured it out. But you can't be sure because at one point everyone seems guilty.


In a community full of unsavory characters all interacting with each other, you haven't seem as much scum since "The Big Easy". Meanwhile Souder and Stall spend their few scenes tossing barbs at each other and explaining to Heigh why he should/shouldn't concern himself with the murders.


Cindy Mollo whose editing credits include the equally complex "Book of Eli" does a nice job keeping every scene tight while Mann keeps you guessing all the way to the end; with just enough violence to keep you awake.


"Texas Killing Fields" is strictly for fans of the murder procedural. Although not as profound as "Winters Bone", it does keep you involved in a mixture of people who all are faulty.   -- GEOFF BURTON