Stephen’s 2 Line Review – The Reckoning

Odd Mish-Mash Of Police Procedural And Found Footage Flick. Veers Into Overt Melodrama.

There are two films happening concurrently in Australian writer/director John V. Soto’s crime thriller The Reckoning, with one half much slicker than the other. While nothing particularly original, the central police procedural pairs the mysteriously brooding Jason (Jonathan LaPaglia) with good cop Jane (Viva Bianca) as they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the in-car gunshot execution of their colleague Jason, with brief cameos from Luke Hemsworth, appearing mostly in flashback.

The troubled chemistry between Jason and Green, thankfully not sexualised, works well and provides a strong emotional anchor in this murky tale of guilt and its consequences, with LaPaglia in particular putting in a swaggeringly appealing performance. This straight-up crime drama looks pretty slick too, thanks to Jason Thomas’ handsome cinematography and some good location work shot in and around Perth.

Unfortunately this entertaining if a little by-the-numbers movie finds itself spliced with a highly melodramatic and far less successfully acted example of the over-played found footage genre. When Jane discovers a video card in Jason’s car, they uncover a fire and brimstone vengeance plot carried out by two bible-bothering teens, Rachel and AJ, played by Hanna Mangan Lawrence and Alex Williams. They’re out to bring some old-fashioned vigilante justice to the hit-and-run driver who left Rachel’s drug-addicted sister dying on the street.

Severely OTT, their whacky campaign is all the more difficult to swallow because of the frankly ridiculous decision to have them record their crusade on handycam. What’s even more perplexing is that a procession of stock standard drug dealers, corrupt cops and crime lords appear to be perfectly happy taking part in their ‘doco’ project while happily confessing to their many sordid crimes. Also unfortunate are the highly fake looking drugs at play in this segue and just exactly where the teens got their fighting prowess and gun mastery is another question left unanswered as they pop off one-by-one this chain of chat happy miscreants.

I can’t help but feel that Soto would have been much better off telling a more straightforward tale, minus the handheld shenanigans, as he’s clearly got a lot of talent, particularly on the directorial side of things. As it is, this is an odd one that just doesn’t quite manage to convince, though there’s some fun to be had in its outright silliness.

Stephen A Russell