On paper, 'A Most Violent Year' doesn't sound like anything special. It's a story we've seen a hundred times before: a criminal finds his bloody business creeping into his family life, threatening to tear down everything he's worked so hard to build. However, when you put J.C. Chandor in the director's chair and cast people like Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in the lead roles, what was once old starts to feel new again.

Set in 1981, the film looks to take full advantage of its period setting, transporting us back to a dirtier, uglier and far less safe New York City. Isaac, who was so incredible in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' (and will probably win a lot of new fans with 'Star Wars: Episode 7') plays Abel Morales, who finds his crime ring under heat from the local authorities. Jessica Chastain, who is so incredible in everything, plays Anna Morales, his wife who is willing to look the other way until her kids start finding loaded guns in their front yard. It all looks very dark, very emotional and very intense, even with the typical trailer cliches.

Chandor made a name for himself with 'Margin Call' but really put himself on the map with 'All is Lost,' where he built a compelling story out of Robert Redford being stranded on a boat for two hours. With him at the helm, there's no way this is a typical crime story. Put this one on your radar, folks.

'A Most Violent Year' opens on December 31.

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