Saturday, January 8, 2011

Red Hill

So a couple of nights ago I went to see Red Hill, which is an Australian Western. Or Horror by way of a Western. Or Revenge Thriller. Some combination thereof. I had liked the trailer, was intrigued to see Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame in something from his country of origin, and the NYTimes rated it as a critic's pick.

The film revolves around Constable Shane Cooper (Kwanten), who has moved to a nowheres-ville small town (Red Hill) for his pregnant wife. His first day on the job, a convicted murderer breaks out of a nearby prison and heads straight to Red Hill, throwing Cooper headlong into a series of shootouts, fights, and intrigue.

The film pretty much hits every Western cliche and foreshadowed sign post on its way to the final showdown. But it does so with such gleeful abandon that it is difficult not to be charmed. I know I complained about heavy-handed foreshadowing and knowing the plot ahead of time in TRON, but in Red Hill, the pacing zips along and the movie remains fun, even if you already know how it is all going to play out. It doesn't break any new ground or reinvent the Western, but its a solid, fun genre flick, which sometimes is all you are looking for. The genre fits well into the Aussie outback, simply because so much of it is on the edge of unforgiving, untamed wilderness and so far from civilization.

On a final note, I went to see this at the Lumiere, which is one of 5 Landmark theaters in SF. Very cute and absolutely the friendliest staff I've ever encountered at a theater. It was, however, very cold and they were offering free tea and coffee, which I really should have taken them up on.

3.5/5 stars

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