19 June 2011

Movies: Red Hill

Red Hill (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1530983/

A thriller with a western-style flavor set in modern Australia.
Young city police officer Shane Cooper moves with his young pregnant wife to the small town of Red Hill.  On his first day of the job news of a convicted murderer Jimmy Conway escaping from prison sets his boss Bill and the rest of the constabulary into a panic, such that they recruit some of the local men to help them prepare. Conway had been put away fifteen years earlier by Bill, and Bill and the boys are expecting Conway to return to Red Hill to exact revenge.

Stars Ryan Kwanten as Shane Cooper.  Who? You probably know him better as Jason Stackhouse if you're a fan of the True Blood series on HBO. Odd as might be to see Jason Stackhouse speak with an Aussie accent, he is from Australia so it's probably more authentic than his Louisiana accent.
You also might recognize Shane Cooper's wife Alice (heh), played by Claire van der Boom of Hawaii Five-O fame, or perhaps The Square. I recognized her name because "van der Boom" sounds cool. The rest of the Australian cast I don't recognize.

Overall an average but enjoyable flick as a thriller / mystery.  The story has a decent enough plot with enough hints to be able to figure out the mystery component well before they tell you. The film didn't drag much - the span of the film covers Cooper's first day on the job and into the night.
As for its western-style flavor - that comes from the remoteness of the location, people riding horses, a sort of wild-west constabulary in the town, gunfights, staredowns, beatdowns, and recognizable western-style themes hinted in the music score. 

Some of the negatives:
The panther (leopard actually). I never really figured out why it is included in the story. If it is supposed to be an allegory for something I completely missed it.
There is one snap-shot with a pistol that was a groaner in its improbability given situation, angle, distance and cover, but one such foible is forgivable.
Drawing a gun and threatening someone while standing at arm's length. I can't figure out why anyone draws a gun on someone without actually intending to shoot them in the face. If you're not gonna follow through you're gonna get yourself punched in the face.  It's especially dumb to do that when someone else is in the room and has a gun pointed at you.
Begging. You'll understand if you watch it.
Posse runs away. WTF? You're a posse. There's more of you than him and you have guns. If you know where he is, just go take him out. Why keep running away, splitting up and getting yourselves killed?
Small universe. Yes it is a very small town, but some events take place outside of town as well. Yet the small cast seems to always be where they need to be for something to happen.
Cooper is passive through most of the film. Supposedly a hero, he is more a means of just being places and going places to carry the story along. He doesn't seem to actively do anything until the very end.

Positives: Despite negatives that stood out to me, I still enjoyed the film. The cast did fine playing their roles. I was interested in the story and wanted to see how it turned out. It was entertaining and thrilling enough for a relaxing viewing.  Sort of an entertainment value exceeds the sum of the parts thing.

I can't remember why I even had this film in my Netflix queue, I don't recall seeing a trailer for it. But since I'm the only one chucking films in the queue something must've clued me in to see it. I like these occasional mailbox surprises.

An enjoyable and entertaining thriller/mystery that's slightly better than average.  If you're stuck for something to watch you can't go too wrong with this one.

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