Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"As a portrait of a psycho, this is dangerously close to the bone."

As an example of garage moviemaking, they don't come much harder than this. If the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs upset you, watch Mark "Chopper" Read force a terrified prisoner to slice his ears off in order to be transferred to the hospital wing, because he knows there's a contract out on him.

Read was an underworld star in the Seventies, a nutter with a penchant for shooting people who displeased him and, in one case, escorting the wounded man to surgery. He was so paranoid that all you had to do was look at him funny and he had a sawn off 4.10 in your face before you had time to gulp.

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Aussie humour is rough at the best of times. Read's was black as night and almost innocent in its naivety. He could be vicious, beating up his girlfriend and her mother, because of some suspected slight, and murdering a fellow convict for no better reason than the man was getting on his nerves.

Writer/director Andrew Dominik is not afraid to use violence as a comic tool. At times it sickens, at others the farcical element releases tension. Eric Bana gives a monumental performance. Whenever you find yourself warming to Read's character, he'll turn on someone and you fear him again. As a portrait of a psycho, this is dangerously close to the bone.

As a first feature, the film has an individuality and a resonance that is difficult to throw off. The brutality and the humour stays with you. It is hard to like, easier to admire.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2007
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The autobiographical story of criminal Mark "Chopper" Read.
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Director: Andrew Dominik

Writer: Andrew Dominik, based on the books by Mark Brandon Read,

Starring: Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, Simon Lyndon, Kate Beahan, Daniel Wyllie, Bill Young, David Field, Kenny Graham, Serge Liistro, Pam Western, Garry Waddell

Year: 2000

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


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