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SYN Nation

Film Review: ‘The Reckoning’

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Australia, 2014

Rating: M

Director: John V Soto 

If the point of every new film is to take what we know to somewhere new, then John V Soto’s The Reckoning might be better approached as one of those ‘movie length’ episodes of CSI. Jonathan LaPaglia stars as Robbie Green, a hard-boiled alcoholic police detective with a plot-device family, investigating the murder of a former colleague and friend Detective Jason Pearson (Luke Hemsworth). In the deceased’s pocket, Green finds the rushes for an amateur doco (nay found-footage) made by two missing teenagers – Rachel (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) and AJ (Alex Williams) – into the hit-and-run death of Rachel’s sister. As the detective and his partner-come-sexual-temptation Detective Jane Lambert (Viva Bianca) retrace the steps of Rachel and AJ, they uncover dead bodies, dead ends, and most of the plot to David Fincher’s Se7en. What we’re left with is a thriller made of tropes rather than thrills.

Crime is a typically cold-hearted genre, but all good crime films involve a level of emotional engagement that The Reckoning just can’t get together. The characters lack complexity to the point that they feel like cousins of Snow White’s seven dwarfs. There are plot holes that should not make it into any film, let alone one based around a police procedural. The non-found-footage cinematography shows off in almost every single shot (with slow-mo or foreground obstructions or jaunty angles or unnecessary mirrors) until it distracts from rather than enhances the onscreen action. While the film’s climactic scene demonstrates that Soto does have chops at filming tension when he’s given a handheld camera and told not to show off, it is far too late for redemption.

Behind it all, it is clear Soto wants to revitalise Australian inner-city genre cinema, and in that regard I wish him the best of luck.  But let’s hope he treats The Reckoning as a learning experience rather than a blueprint.

Written By: Scott Woodard, September 2014 

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