Australia. A man looking to catch a criminal by the name of Arthur Burns (the head of the Burns Gang). He catches his brothers instead, and offers the elder brother (Guy Pearce) a deal. A proposition. Bring him Arthur Burns, the man who raped and killed Eliza Hopkins. And to make sure that Charlie will honor the deal, he keeps the youngest brother, Mikey.
The stage is set early on in the movie, and yet, this is more than just a simple story about a gang of criminals and the law enforcers who are chasing them down, this is a story about a country being created, about the fight for survival in a strange land. About justice and peace of mind.
Nick Cave wrote the screenplay, and also most of the music. This gives us a hint that it is not going to be your average movie, but something... more, something different. We can also expect the sound to be spectacular and forceful, and indeed, it is. The music here very much reminded me of the music in There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson, extraordinary and... haunting really. But it doesn't stop at the music, the visual side of the movie is rather stunning in a haunting way as well, dirty and dusty all the way through. I love when a movie has a distinct visual style and rhythm, and this one does.
The movie starts out with a bang, as the law enforcers hunt down the two younger brothers, Charlie and Mikey, but as soon as Charlie is given the proposition, it slows down considerably and branches out to tell two stories, that of Charlie hunting down his brother, but also that of Captain Stanley and his wife, two opposing forces. This guy clearly has demons of his own, and is looking for justice to be served. I love the pace in this movie, it wants to tell its story just right.
The cast is a great one, as mentioned Guy Pearce plays one of the Burns brothers, together with Danny Huston. These guys are dirty and bend on doing whatever it takes to survive. Captain Stanley is played by the amazing Ray Winstone. He plays the role with a quietness and a subtlety that surprised me. He is the hero of the story, at least for me, and wants only justice to be served. In other parts we see David Wenham and John Hurt, both delivering quirky and interesting characters. A great movie needs a great cast, and this one most certainly have that.
Last words... this movie does not compromise. It is honest, it is dark and it forces you to think about right and wrong. How does one identify a criminal and what forces people to do evil deeds? Nothing is simple really, and it shouldn't be. Most people have both light and darkness within them, and that is the case in this movie.