Written and Directed by Jonathan Adams
Produced by Nicole Johnschwager and Kelly Tomasich
Starring Gareth Rickards, Vincent Andriano, Sam Glissan, Hayley Sullivan, Katie Garfield, Jamie Kristian, Adam Horner and Ernie Dingo
“An adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.”
by Matthew Eeles
2017 is off and racing and Australian cinema is off to a flying start with action-packed adventure Rough Stuff way out in front. Following three shorts, director Jonathan Adams’ first feature behind the wheel is a hilarious, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride through some of Australia’s roughest terrain.
Rugged Rover Buzz (Gareth Rickard) can’t believe his luck when a group of environmental activists, lead by Eric (Garath Rickards), offer him and his crew a map to the legendary Stray’s Gold in exchange for transport to an environmentally hazardous mine site so they can stage an explosive protest. Buzz is happy to oblige in the hope of a stress-free, financially stable future. What follows is one of the best cinematic adventures you’ll have all year with enough twists, turns and betrayals to keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Adams’ cast are all terrific and thankfully so – there’s so much larrikinism and Aussie slang being thrown around that the whole thing could’ve become bogged very quickly if these characters were put into the hands of lesser actors.
Rough Stuff is at its best though when the film’s mud-splattered, beaten up vehicles are running on all cylinders, climbing mountains and banging, crashing and splashing through unforgiving landscapes. It’s here where Adams and his crew are in their finest form, especially the visuals which are ably handled by Jack Crombie. It’s staggering to think that this is Crombie’s first film as cinematographer – think Heat but off road.
Rough Stuff runs out of gas a little towards the end when it becomes overcomplicated during a clumsy final act involving a shonky mining billionaire but it’s quick to correct itself when the identity of a mysterious Rover is revealed, new alliances are formed and the race to Stray’s Gold shifts into a higher gear.
I really hope the film’s distributors have a strong strategic plan to put this film in front of as many country and rural audiences as possible because they’re the ones who’ll get the biggest kick out of it. That said, Rough Stuff is guaranteed to please everyone from outdoorsy thrill seekers to couch potatoes and everyone in between.
Rough Stuff hits cinemas March 16.