Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) is having a bad first day at work as the newest Constable in the remote Victorian country town of Red Hill. He and his wife Alice (a sweet but unsubstantial Claire van der Boom) only moved to the town the night before, he can’t find his gun and he isn’t making a good impression on his new boss, Inspector Bill (magnificent Steve Bisley in the traditional style of the local sheriff).
But Shane’s day goes from bad to worse when convicted murderer Jimmy Conway (an eerie Tommy Lewis) manages to escape from a maximum security prison and everyone in town knows that he is heading straight for Red Hill to finish what he considers to be unfinished business. As the body count starts to rise, Shane must put personal difficulties to one side and try to survive in a town where he hasn’t had the chance to learn what the rules are. .
Although I’m not normally a fan of Westerns, it’s amazing how well the genre translates to the spectacular vastness and isolation of outback Australia (where help is hours away) right down to a posse on horseback and a showdown outside (and inside) the ubiquitous country pub.
Directed by relative newcomer Patrick Hughes, this movie is frightening and suspenseful, although probably undeserving of its R-rating for violence and strong language. At times, some of the script is a little trite and certain metaphors relating to the film’s ‘message’ are excessively emphasised, undermining some of the poignancy of the film and the viewer’s chance to connect with the characters.
Most importantly, the acting is superb, with Tommy Lewis’ almost entirely wordless performance sending shivers down the viewer’s spine and Steve Bisley laying down the law. Special mention must also go to a touching Cliff Ellen playing Gleason, a man who is caught up in circumstances outside his control. But most impressive is Ryan Kwanten’s naive young Shane who just wants to follow the law. Who would have thought that Vinnie from Summer Bay would have come so far?
Kryztoff Rating 4.5K
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