This is a drama of a crime veering tragicomically off the planned trajectory. It is a film chiselled to perfection which holds you by the seat from end to end. The pieces of the story go back and forth in time and are assembled with wicked ingenuity to grip the viewer with suspense and uncertainty about what is going to come next. The pace never lets up and the film gathers momentum till it explodes to a befitting finale. A gem of film craft and story telling which is worth watching for it's sheer wizardry of execution. The high point is the subdued but mesmeric acting performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He completely embodies the seemingly confident yet inwardly crumbling character of Andy Hanson.
It is a film about the depths of desperation which money can drive people to, the terrifying spirals of evil in which they can be caught. It begins with a mother's slaughter and concludes with a gut wrenching act of revenge. The title of this sombre masterpiece derives from a saying, "Spend a half hour in heaven before the devil knows you're dead." Lumet died in his late eighties soon after this film. It is a chilling vision of human fallibility seen from the pinnacle of age, experience and impending death. It almost seems as though the great director had taken a spot on the pulpit and was teaching the rationale of the Christian faith through this tragic modern parable with it's macabre grandeur..