The Christian Bale Murder Mystery Thriller On Netflix That Features A Historical Figure

By TeeJay Small | Updated

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The Pale Blue Eye

Christian Bale is widely beloved for his incredible work in film, as well as the wide range of characters he’s opted to portray. Just last year, Bale starred in an underrated mystery thriller called The Pale Blue Eye, which is available to stream now on Netflix. Though the movie has largely flown under the radar, Christian Bale’s leading performance as Veteran detective Augustus Landor has been widely praised by critics.

The Pale Blue Eye, currently streaming on Netflix, is an overlooked Christian Bale historical mystery worth a look.

The Pale Blue Eye is an adaptation of a book by the same name written by American author Louis Bayard. The film features an ensemble cast of A-list stars, including The Manchurian Candidate‘s Simon McBurney, Harry Potter‘s Timothy Spall, Captain America‘s Toby Jones, The Godfather‘s Robert Duvall, and The Queen’s Gambit‘s Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe. The film was written and directed by Scott Cooper, who is best known for his work on the 2015 Johnny Depp film Black Mass.

The Pale Blue Eye centers on a retired detective struggling with alcoholism in the mid-1800s. The man, named Augustus Landor, is tasked with investigating the hanging of a military cadet at a Military Academy. After a brief investigation, it becomes clear to Landor that the cadet’s hanging was not an act of suicide, prompting the detective to enlist the help of another cadet at the academy, Edgar Allen Poe.

As the investigation carries on, The Pale Blue Eye becomes a gripping tale of the occult, with Poe suggesting the body, which had its heart removed, was hanged in a ritualistic sacrifice.

Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue Eye

After cadets around the institute begin to drop like flies, Landor and Poe start tracking down leads, revealing the autopsy doctor, Daniel Marquis, who engaged in black magic to cure his daughter of her seizures. At first, it seems as though the case is closed until Poe uncovers a shocking discovery that re-contextualizes the events of the entire film.

The Pale Blue Eye first premiered in select cinemas on December 22, 2022, before landing on Netflix on January 6, 2023. Though the film held only a limited theatrical release, grossing under a million dollars, it holds an estimated production budget of $72 million.

The Pale Blue Eye capped off a very busy year for Christian Bale that also included Thor: Love and Thunder and Amsterdam.

Due to Netflix’s subscription model, there’s no 100 percent accurate way to determine whether the film has positively impacted the streamer, though it is hard to imagine the film made its money back with such little word of mouth.

The Pale Blue Eye

The film is highly underrated, failing to leave a massive mark on the pop culture zeitgeist at large when it was released. However, the beauty of a service like Netflix seems to lay in a film like The Pale Blue Eye, having the ability to blow up and find its audience months or years after first coming out. The film touts a 64 percent critic score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, with a slightly more favorable 69 percent general audience score.

The Pale Blue Eye debuted at the tail end of a very busy year for leading star Christian Bale, who kicked off 2022 with his first foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Love and Thunder. Between the releases of these two films, Bale also starred alongside Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert De Niro, Timothy Olyphant, and many others in David O’Russell’s massive ensemble picture Amsterdam.

Because of its limited theatrical release, and rapid move to Netflix, it’s impossible to know how well The Pale Blue Eye performed financially.

As of now, The Pale Blue Eye remains the most recently released IMDb credit to Bale’s name, with only one upcoming project in active development. Christian Bale is slated to lead the David Kushner and Charles Randolph penned film The Church of Living Dangerously as John Lee Bishop, the real-life pastor of a mega-church who famously fell from grace when it was revealed to the public that he had become affiliated with drug trafficking Mexican cartels.

Though films such as The Pale Blue Eye will likely never reach the heights of many of Christian Bale’s most prominent works of film such as American Psycho, American Hustle, The Big Short, and Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy, the film still holds its place as a terrific performance from the UK born actor. The Pale Blue Eye is available to stream on Netflix now.