Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SWERVE ★ ★ ★ ½

Kindly Reviewed by John Richard

Release Dates

7th June
, 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates

Perth West Australian FilmGoers: Click here for Luna Palace Website session times

We have all grown up with the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’; where we are taught to help others.  In more modern times we are urged to do the ‘right thing’.  Swerve now teaches us that doing the right thing should also include the right time and the right place.  Colin (David Lyons, Eat Pray Love, Sea Patrol) recently discharged from the Navy is on his way to Broken Hill for a job interview.  He travels on a lonely outback road and witnesses an accident after a driver (on the wrong side of the road) swerves to avoid an oncoming sports car.  After stopping, Colin rushes to the worst damaged car only to find the driver has died.  He also finds a suitcase full of money which he places in his car.  The driver of the other car Jina (Emma Booth, Underbelly, The Boys are Back) appears unhurt, though dazed.  She requests a lift back to her homestead and our good Samaritan agrees after urging her to obtain medical assistance.
After dropping Jina off Colin continues down the main road until he spots a signpost for the town of Neverest.  Being a good guy out to do the right thing he drives to town to report the accident and hand in the suitcase at the local police station.  The station is closed so Colin heads to the pub for a cold beer.  Here he meets the local police officer Frank (Jason Clarke, Public Enemies) who secures the suitcase and the money but declines to take a statement until the following day.
Colin is somewhat nonplussed by this turn of events, but appears to take it in his stride – although a number of audience members urged him to do otherwise.  There being no accommodation in town Frank invites Colin to stay at his home.  We return to the homestead where Colin last saw Jina.  This is the point of the film where the audience needs to fasten their seatbelts as the roller coaster ride begins.  The film is littered with plots and sub-plots; twists and turns; a sleazy car dealer (Vince Colosimo, The Kings of Mykonos), nasty cops and nastier gangsters; and, one hapless good Samaritan trying to save himself and …
A number of minor roles were filled by well-known Australian faces. Among these were Roy Billing, Chris Haywood, Travis McMahon, Robert Mammone and Andy Anderson.  Each was well cast and delivered their usual high standard of performance.
There are contrived coincidences, car chases, shoot-outs and man hunts.  Colin manages one lucky escape after another although in fairness the scratches and bruises begin to mount.  Each move by Colin results in a counter move by one or more opponents.  The intricate game of chess being played out results in the loss of some pawns, while check mate never seems to be a likely outcome.  The action is filmed in outback South Australia and the scenery adds to each setting.  Threatening at times; idyllic at others, but it adds to the mood and aids the intent of the director.
Swerve does not aim to become a high brow opus on morality or love or crime.  It does however set out to entertain and after all isn’t this why most people go to see a film.  Sure, some of the stunts are not likely to be possible in life, but overseas films get away with that all the time.  So why can’t an Australian cop jump on the roof of a moving train?
Producer, director and writer Craig Lahiff (Black and White, Heaven’s Burning) possible had his tongue in cheek whilst writing the script, but he does not resile from the fact that this film sets out to entertain.  The audience laughed, groaned or sighed at all the right moments proving that something was working as planned.  At 87 minutes there must have been a fair amount of footage on the cutting room floor.  This merely served to ensure a well-paced, tightly controlled series of actions which told the story and isn’t this what every story teller sets out to do.

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Thank you to John Richard for this review.