If Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes was the Wagyu of this year’s CinéfestOZ then John Soto’s The Reckoning was the Chuck steak. It’s inconceivable that a film brimming with ridiculous inaccuracies and pure silliness was considered for a prize worth a hundred grand, because almost every part of Soto’s wannabe thriller is a dreadful mess.
Robbie Green (Jonathan LaPaglia) is your average movie detective cliché – unlikeable, grumpy, unnecessarily heavy-handed and worst of all, predictable. Green and his partner, Jane Lambert (Viva Bianca), are trying to track down a couple of psycho teens, Rachel (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence) and AJ (Alex Williams), who have footage containing the murder of Green’s ex-partner, Jason Pearson, (Luke Hemsworth).
As hard as Soto tries, The Reckoning’s script is completely void of any originality and is littered with tiresome, underwritten characters. LaPaglia seems so uninterested in his role that he phones his lines in without any integrity. A seasoned detective who almost vomits at the sight of a very small blood stain would seem silly to any professional actor – but hey, it’s a pay cheque.
Thankfully, there are a two great performances here and Hanna Mangan-Lawrence’s is one of them. The talented AFI-nominated actress is a breath of fresh air as Rachel, hellbent on finding her sister’s killer. She’s so intense and explosive that it’s a shame her character is so piss-poor – as a cancer-riddled teen she does more running around Perth than someone in a city to surf fun run.
The second great performance comes from Luke Hemsworth who unfortunately has about ten lines. I would have loved to have seen him play LaPaglia’s character or even Alex Williams’, whose interpretation of a knife-weilding loony is laughable. Without Mangan-Lawrence to carry Williams along you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate him from a piece of cardboard.
The one successful composition of Soto’s film is the fusing of two popular genres. While the ‘found-footage’ pieces will appeal to today’s smartphone junkies (even though it’s shot on a video camera) the whodunnit thriller attempts to captivate the rest. It’s just nowhere near as thrilling as it could be.
The Reckoning has been given a very limited cinema release in Australia. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned cash expecting an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting night out, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.
Directed by: John V. Soto
Starring: Jonathan LaPaglia, Viva Bianca, Alex Williams, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence and Luke Hemsworth
Review by: Matthew Eeles