ROBERT Pattinson continues to prove himself with a powerhouse performance in this frantic, perpetually unnerving subterranean crime tale from directing brothers Benny and Josh Safdie.

Following a seemingly foolproof bank heist that goes spectacularly awry, resourceful petty crook Connie (Pattinson) does everything he can over the course of 24 hours to bail out his mentally challenged brother Nick (played by Benny Safdie himself) before he is sent to New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison.

What follows is a head-spinning, neon-drenched journey through the New York City criminal underworld involving various violent encounters with drug dealers and the police. It’s told with stylistic panache by a directing duo that has spent years making low-budget stories like Heaven Knows What and Daddy Longlegs on the street level of the Big Apple.

Their uncompromising, guerilla approach marries very effectively with the story of a fraught individual doing the wrong things for the right reasons. The film uses his twisted journey of genuine brotherly love and responsibility to explore what it means to help those you care about, even when you’re too close to see that you’re doing more harm than good.

It’s hard to think of many actors who have distanced themselves quite so forcefully and effectively from the heartthrob role that made their name than Pattinson; challenging roles in the likes of Cosmopolis, The Childhood of a Leader and this year’s The Lost City of Z, to name but a few, feel collectively like statements of diversity and intention.

As Connie he might just give his best performance yet, bringing to mind great 1970s performances such as Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, commanding every frame he’s in by exuding a keen mix of menace, desperation and sympathy behind his dyed-blonde hair, heavy Queens accent and manically staring eyes. He manages that difficult balancing act of making you care about what becomes of him and his forced urban mission of brotherly salvation even if he continues to commit some terrible acts along the way.

The ironically-titled Good Time is a film that never lets up, wholly committed to the danger, uncertainty and propulsive, down-the-rabbit-role intensity that drives it while at the same time finding time for a strange kind of hopeful light at the end of the jet-black tunnel. It’s rarely what you would call an easy watch but one that commands attention.