Dirty Deeds

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It is part of Aussie tradition to kick the livings out of convention, in this case gangster flicks. A comedy of criminal misbehaviour amongst Sydney's fineless reads like diamonds in the dust to a dehydrated backpacker.

Writer/director David Caesar indulges in pop vidual camera showy-offness, which disturbs the tranquillity of watching your standard bent copper and home-grown villains deal with the arrival of Yank Mafia hoods (John Goodman, Felix Williamson) on their patch. The intrinsic cynicism of the script keeps getting hammered by visual hows-your-fathers, when all it needs is a clear, clean run at the tough guys.

Bryan Brown's disorganised crime boss and Sam Neill's policeman have the one-armed bandit business sorted. Brown sends his muscle into any club that dares not to use his machines and Neill turns a blind eye in exchange for the proverbial brown envelope.

On the domestic front, Brown is two-timing his wife (Toni Collette) with the bar staff (Kestie Morassi), who has her eye on his nephew (Sam Worthington), still wet behind the ears, despite a stint in 'Nam with the Australian contingent - it's the Sixties, by the way, and things are still primitive in the inback.

Any film remotely connected to Goodman can't be all bad. His double act with Williamson is marred only by the latter's inability to find a thread of intelligence in his character's history. Also, the level of violence is unacceptable for a gag bag.

The plot loses itself in the red desert wastelands of Walkabout, where the American guests are taken for a hog shoot, which turns out to be something entirely other - surprise! surprise! Collette and Neill are sadly underused, while Worthington is too white and sliced to matter. Brown, who co-produced, has a hunk of a role and he relishes every succulent bite, while Goodman demonstrates, yet again, what a superb film actor he is.

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2003
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Dirty Deeds packshot
Yank mafiosi try to muscle in on Aussie gangsters' one-armed bandit biz.
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Director: David Caesar

Writer: David Caesar

Starring: Bryan Brown, John Goodman, Toni Collette, Sam Neill, Sam Worthington, Kestie Morassi, Felix Williamson

Year: 2002

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia/Canada

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