Red Hill a Poor (Aussie) Man's Coen Bros. Western
Patrick Hughess feature debut starts out promisingly enough, setting the table for a square-meal genre picture. Relocated big-city cop Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) reports for his first shift as deputy in Red Hill, a sleepy hick town in Australian hill country, and hell isnt long in breaking loose. Word spreads that Jimmy Conway, an outlaw of Aboriginal origins with a violent history in Red Hill, has escaped from prison, and the cowboy police departmenthard men with boiled complexions led by Steve Bisleys sheriffcircles its wagons. Wearing a leather duster and toting a sawed-off shotgun, his half-charred face impassive and almost saurian, Tommy Lewiss Conway is a knockoff of the implacable killing machines manufactured by the Coen Brothers. He commences a siege that contains not one commandingly strategized set piece, but instead some awful badass showboating (Conway putting pub-rock on the jukebox for a shoot-out), and as bodies pile, passive protagonist Cooper starts to question his loyalties. Its clear that Hughes knows his Midnight Oil, but hes ignorant of the craft of economic action filmmaking. However arguably noble his films intent to redress historical grievance, a poorly filmed shoot-out is never more than exactly that.
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