For a while, it appears as if McCanick viewed Weeks as a surrogate son, replacing the actual son who’s rejected him for reasons unknown. This turns out to be a red herring, however. McCanick is actually a closeted homosexual who fell in love with Weeks after interrogating him (in the flashbacks) about a murder committed by one of his fellow hustlers. When McCanick finally invited the kid to move in with him—couching the offer as a friendly effort to help him escape the life—Weeks first passionately kissed him, then mocked him when he responded in kind, noting that he (Weeks) only sleeps with men for money, and calling McCanick a faggot. McCanick then beat the living shit out of Weeks and framed him for the murder. (Implausibly, his captain seems to know all about the frame job.) Hence the instant freakout when Weeks is unexpectedly released in the movie’s present day.
Not only is the super-macho closet case a sad cliché (exemplified, as I hinted in the review, by Chris Cooper’s character in American Beauty), but screenwriter Daniel Noah gives the movie a maudlin Author’s Message: When McCanick, in the final scene, demands to know why Weeks didn’t tell anyone he was framed, or that the arresting officer wanted to sleep with him, Weeks replies, “’Cause it’s not your fault.” Meaning, presumably (he doesn’t elaborate), that McCanick shouldn’t be blamed for assault or perjury if they were inspired by shame over a sexual preference he didn’t choose. Are there hustlers out there whose convictions on this subject are so strong that they’d willingly do (at least) seven years in prison rather than out somebody who beat and framed them? I’m skeptical.
Oh, and then McCanick lets Weeks go, and commits suicide by self-immolation. Uh-huh.