FILMINK REVIEW – FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE!
Writer/director John V. Soto delivers his best film yet with this tight, taut and compelling thriller.
John V. Soto is a true rarity in Australian cinema: a writer/director working exclusively in the tricky world of genre filmmaking who not only consistently gets films off the ground, but who also populates them with name actors while maintaining an admirable level of quality control. After 2009’s teen thriller, Crush, and 2010’s supernatural horror flick, Needle, Soto delivers his most mature and well balanced film yet with The Reckoning, a tight combination of the police procedural and the “found footage” sub-genres. In amongst the murders and compelling plot, however, lurks something even more interesting: a thoughtful meditation on the issues of responsibility, guilt, and the impossibility of retribution.
When Detective Jason Pearson (Luke Hemsworth) is found murdered, his boozy, unsteady ex-partner, Detective Robbie Green (a nice, slow-burning performance from Jonathan LaPaglia), is drawn into the case, which is soon revealed to involve two runaway teens (Alex Williams, Hanna Mangan Lawrence) with a handycam and a strange agenda of their own, which they intend to capture in an on-the- fly “documentary.”
Stylishly and crisply shot by Jason Thomas – who reimagines Perth as a bleak, nighttime world of blurry lights and rolling freeways – The Reckoning unfolds slowly but with great control. Soto has a strong grip on his material, punctuating this dark tale with effective, narratively sound (as opposed to cheap and exploitative) twists and turns, while also giving his characters room to breathe. The performances are uniformly excellent, but the unquestionably stardom-bound Hanna Mangan Lawrence (X, Lucky Country, Acolytes, The Square) is a smashing standout, crafting a raw, nuanced portrait of a desperate, damaged teen that is terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time. She’s a fine anchor to a fine film. Erin Free
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