TL;DR – A film of two halves, some interesting characters in a story that fails to deliver
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Today we are looking at a film of two halves, which makes it a difficult movie to review. This is because there are aspects where the film shines, and then there are moments where it all falls apart. These two halves create a disconnect that you can’t help but see throughout the entire runtime.
So to set the scene, we open in on Freddy (James Rolleston) and Marvin (Samuel Austin) in a room that is about to explode in gunfire. We then jump back a night where we see Freddy and Marvin in a car as they completely botch up robbing an ATM, severely damaging their boss’ car. From here they are up a certain creek without a paddle. Their boss Spiggs (Scott Wills) gives them one opportunity, they have to kill the guy sleeping with his wife, and it all goes wrong from here.
Where the film works is with its characters, because they are generally all compelling. James Rolleston is a great character actor which we have seen before in movies like The Breaker Upperers. Here he brings life into what could have been a very two-dimensional character as someone that wants to escape his lot in life even though he didn’t realise what that meant when he signed up. There is a good rapport between Semo (Robbie Magasiva) and Roy (Cohen Holloway) the bumbling henchmen of one of the big bads, The Upholsterer (Rebecca Gibney), and who provide some of the humorous moments in the film. Speaking of The Upholsterer, it is clear that Rebecca Gibney was having a blast in the role, which is a delight to watch. I think my favourite character in the film was Barbara (Olivia Morphew), the motel clerk who stole every scene she was in.
However, while there is a lot about the film that works, unfortunately on balance, there is a lot that didn’t. The biggest problem is the tone. This film wants to situate itself in that MA/R comedy space where you gross out your audience from start to finish. In some respects, they succeeded, because it has been a long time since I have had to turn away from the screen (if you have watched the film, you will know which scene I am refereeing to). However, good movies that walk in this space know how to balance those moments with the rest of the comedic story beats, and this is where it all falls down.
For example, quite early, we do a smash cut to a very explicit sex scene that didn’t need to be there and added nothing to the film. It felt tacked on like its only presence was there to boost the ratings and not to help the narrative. There were also several moments where the film goes into an explicit visual description of what is going on, which frankly would have worked better if it had been implied rather than shown. All of these extreme moments undercut the more goofy nature of the film like it was two separate films smashed together.
In the end, do we recommend Lowdown Dirty Criminals? Unfortunately, no. While there are moments that shine, indeed moments that made me laugh. These moments were few and far between everything else that does not work. A film working in a similar space that does manage to walk that balance is The Legend of Baron To’a that you might want to check out.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Lowdown Dirty Criminals
Directed by – Paul Murphy
Written by – David Brechin-Smith
Cinematography by – Rob Marsh
Edited by – Greg Jennings
Production/Distribution Companies – Lowdown Productions, New Zealand Film Commission/Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga & Monster Pictures.
Starring – James Rolleston, Samuel Austin, Rebecca Gibney, Robbie Magasiva, Cohen Holloway, Min Kim, Shane Rangi, Thomas Sainsbury, Grant Roa, Scott Wills, Grant Kereama, Olivia Morphew, Tim Gordon & Unaloto Funaki.
Rating – Australia: MA15+;