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The Reckoning

The ReckoningDirected by John V Soto
Starring Jonathan LaPaglia, Luke Hemsworth, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence

While investigating the murder of his colleague and former friend, Detective Robbie Green (Jonathan LaPaglia) discovers an SD card containing the testament of two teenage runaways. As Detective Green investigates the murder, the footage of the two teens shows an attempt to uncover the killer of one of their sisters, who died in a drug related accident. Soon the two stories intertwine and Green finds himself in danger of losing his family, his career and maybe even his life.

An ambitious thriller that certainly looks the business, The Reckoning has all the styling and bluster of an American police drama. It manages to turn the streets of Perth into a dark and crime-ridden landscape that could easily substitute for Miami or LA, or anywhere else you would like to stick a CSI or NCIS in front of. However, that seems to be the extent of its ambition, as the film collapses under the weight of its own logical inconsistencies, clichéd dialogue, plodding pacing and paper thin characterisations.

Ultimately The Reckoning gives us a procedural with no understanding of procedure, a mystery with little to solve, and a thriller that is short on excitement. The first half of the movie is full of clumsy exposition as the police follow the breadcrumb trail left on the SD card. As such we see many locations twice, increasing the sense of deja vu, while not showing us much new or interesting. When the truth of the mysterious code “13:4” (muttered by the teenage Rachel) is revealed, the audience is given a brief flash of excitement as the breadth of the runaways’ plan is demonstrated, before The Reckoning settles in for its all too predictable conclusion.

LaPaglia’s character is a typical cop in trouble archetype; a marriage on the rocks, a partner who he has had an affair with, an out of control drinking habit, and a dark secret in the past. For all the plot points draped on the character, none are a surprise, and few get resolved or have much pay off. At his best he is serviceable in the role, at worst his tired hangdog expression makes him look less world weary and more like he wishes to be elsewhere. Indeed, most of the cast look like they are going through the motions here, with the exception of some of the younger members. Hanna Mangan-Lawrence puts in an admirable performance as Rachel, the bible-bashing cancer patient out for revenge. She manages to pitch the performance with an intensity that is truly terrifying, counterbalancing a few quiet moments where she contemplates her own mortality. It is actually moving, giving the promise of better roles to come.

The Reckoning may look good given its tiny budget, but it is pedestrian and predictable. A brief look at any crime time TV line up would find a similar, less error ridden and (maybe) more believable production.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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