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STUDIO Cohen Media Group
RUNNING TIME 86 minutes
• Cast and Crew Interviews
No Country for Old Men 2: The Thunder Down Under
Jason Clarke, Emma Booth, David Lyons
Driving cross-country to a job interview, Colin opts for a shortcut and happens across a fatal car accident. One of the drivers is shaken but not hurt, while the other lies dead – leaving a suitcase full of money without an owner. Colin resists temptation and hands it into the local cop, wanting to get on his way. But what initially seemed to be a good deed prompts a series of strange events to unfold where nothing is quite what it seems and Colin quickly finds it hard to leave town.
I love Australian cinema and I always have. I can’t honestly say what’s even different from any other country’s movie output but Australian movies have always done it for me. Even when they’re bad, there’s a certain quality to them that makes me sit up and take notice.
Swerve is kind of an Australian answer to No Country for Old Men mixed with a little bit of Blood Simple. This comparison does the movie no favors as it makes it feel like a direct-to-DVD sequel to the former featuring a lower budget, different actors, and a new location. It’s a comparison that I’ll do my best not to hold against it, but there are a lot of distracting parallels which are hard to ignore.
Our story concerns a car accident on a desert road. Colin, our protagonist, is the first responder; he finds the woman in the convertible is shaken but not harmed while the man in the other car is dead and a briefcase full of money lays beside him. Bucking the trend of characters in these movies, Colin takes the money to the nearest town and gives it to the police. Frank, the police chief, locks the money up in the town’s jail cell and offers Colin a place to stay for the night since his car is broken down and the only motel is booked solid.
Frank’s wife, Jina, turns out the be woman from the accident. Frank and Jina don’t have a happy marriage and she was in the process of absconding with their life savings when the wreck happened. She plays the femme fatale bit with Colin, but he’s apparently seen at least one movie in his life and decides to turn her down. Unfortunately, a hitman working for whoever the money belongs to is making trouble, and Frank soon begins to suspect a conspiracy by Jina and Colin to get him out of the picture.
If there’s one thing I cannot praise enough about this movie, it’s the character of Colin. He reacts to all of this like a rational human being: he doesn’t try to keep the money and he doesn’t take Jina’s bait. He just wants to leave, but bad luck just keeps putting him in impossibly bad situations.
The only problem with Colin is that he’s a bit of a non-entity. He’s smart, capable, and a former soldier with a laundry list of useful skills but he has little in the way of personality beyond exasperation and decency. He seems to intentionally be a sort of everyman but it leaves little for the audience to latch onto.
Jina is the typical protagonist of this sort of movie but she’s framed as the femme fatale instead. It’s a role she plays, but not really one she fits into, and definitely not one she (the character, not the actress) is very good at. It’s very obviously a front she puts up as she’s a terrible schemer.
Frank is the most interesting character on display, and he’s unquestionably a bit of a scumbag, but if you cut out all of the scenes that aren’t from his perspective he would be the hero of the movie. Of course it’s revealed that there’s something a bit more sinister about Frank… maybe.
That’s the thing about Swerve, you can only really believe what you see. We find out about Frank’s past sins, but it’s Jina who tells the story and she’s not a reliable source. Frank goes nuts, but at that point in the movie the situation (as it has been shown to him) justifies his anger. He was a bit bullish about his wife earlier in the movie, but she’s obviously been pulling stuff over on him for a while. In this regard, Colin is the most useful as the only obvious moral character in the movie. Still it’s never clear if he’s running from the villain or the victim.
Unfortunately, such an interesting dynamic is shackled to a rather formulaic movie. Swerve tries to be different from other movies of this type while still hitting all the same story beats. No matter how it toys with convention it never succeeds at being more than just another mid-level rural noir.
This is a pretty standard no-frills release. There’s a handful of very short interviews and a trailer.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars