Australian modern-day western makes up for lacks in originality with bravado and tension
With its tale of a convict on the loose and a rookie cop on his first day on the job, Red Hill is hardly original. Written and directed by debuting Aussie director Patrick Hughes, if you crossed No Country For Old Men with Assault on Precinct 13, you wouldn’t be far off this modern-day western. Yet what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in bravado and tension.
True Blood star Ryan Kwanten plays Shane Cooper, fresh from the big city and ready to settle for a quiet life in the titular town with his pregnant wife. Boy, did he pick the wrong day to make his transfer. Scar-faced Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis) escapes from prison and returns to Red Hill to revenge himself upon the townsfolk who put him away.
If Red Hill has a problem, it’s that it tries to do too much (there’s even a subplot involving a deadly panther). But anchored by Kwanten’s impressive performance and Hughes’ ability to orchestrate his action scenes, this is a highly watchable potboiler. Alongside recent crime film Animal Kingdom, it shows that the Australian genre film or Ozploitation is in rude health.
General release from Fri 13 May.