Writer-director Patrick Hughes brings us this Australian thriller/Western that manages to impress with it’s style and moments of tension throughout.
Ryan Kwanten (most familiar nowadays to fans of the excellent “True Blood”) stars as Constable Shane Cooper, a city boy trying to get by on his first day in a small, country town. After getting to know his grumpy boss (Bill, played by Steve Bisley), there isn’t much time for anything else when the news is announced about an escaped convict (Jimmy Conway, played by Tommy Lewis) who the townsfolk just know will be heading straight for them in order to get revenge. And they’re right. But as the corpses start to pile up, Shane begins to wonder just what would drive one man to seek such single-minded vengeance.
Mixing equal parts The Proposition, The Terminator and One False Move with the likes of High Noon (and I can’t help thinking that the name made up of Shane and Cooper is not entirely coincidental), Red Hill can’t exactly be accused of striking out with something original but it does what it sets out to do extremely well.
The characters are all nicely drawn and memorable enough and the performances are all convincing. Kwanten is great in the central role, the perfect mix of wide-eyed innocence and inner steely resolve. Steve Bisley is excellent as the world-weary head lawman and Jimmy Conway makes up for in sheer physical presence what he doesn’t get to deliver in dialogue. There are also a number of actors in supporting roles who do a great job, never overstaying their welcome but always doing enough to help you identify those in danger when the killing begins.
With an interesting backstory revealed that adds some thematic weight to the movie, this will appeal to those who enjoy mainstream thrills but maybe don’t mind a little bit of intelligence in there too. Yes, there are some implausible moments (well, to be honest, there are quite a few but only some that take you slightly out of the movie) and some scenes shot simply for a bit of cinematic style, apparently, but that’s far from the worst crimes a movie of this sort can be accused of. It’s a promising feature from Patrick Hughes, let’s hope he follows it up with something equally impressive.
DIRECTOR: PATRICK HUGHES
STARS: RYAN KWANTEN, STEVE BISLEY, TOMMY LEWIS
RUNTIME: APPROX 93 MINS