Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Lowdown Dirty Criminals

Kiwi director Paul Murphy’s likeable criminal comedy is heavily influenced by Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino (duh!), and features cool performances by James Rolleston and Samuel Austin as our sweetly gormless protagonists.

Murphy (a former colleague of Peter Jackson’s, but aren’t they all?) and screenwriter David Brechin-Smith offer some overly familiar tricks here – timeline-tweaking, Fourth-Wall-breaking voiceover, freeze-frames – but they mostly work anyway, and we actually wind up fearing for Rolleston’s Freddy and Austin’s Marvin.

Wellington-based pizza deliveryman Freddy begins his story at the big climax and then naturally pulls us back to demonstrate how he got into such an improbable mess. When he lost his job, Freddy and Marvin (who keep saying they want to live “high on the hog”) boldly approached chrome-dome baddie kingpin Mr. Spiggs (Scott Wills), who somehow agreed to let the pair take on a less-than-criminal errand: to pick up his birthday cake.

When they botch it, our heroes promise to make it up to Spiggs by killing the sleazy guy who’s having an affair with Spiggs’ wife, and this proves a real problem because neither are the murderous type. Their hapless hi jinks also draw the attention of a rival gang headed by the much-feared ‘The Upholsterer’, who’s played by, believe it or not, smallscreen perennial Rebecca Gibney(!).

The Kiwi-born Gibney hams it up famously here as she spits profanities, waves pistols and gropes around in a corpse’s guts, and she obviously knows full well that we’ll be startled seeing her take on such an unexpectedly way-over-the-top role. And we know she knows.

But really we’re here to worry for Freddy and Marvin, and Rolleston (the star of Taika Waititi’s Boy 10 years ago) and Austin are both very charming. And although Murphy’s movie isn’t going to win any awards for scintillating originality, it’s pretty enjoyable nonetheless, bro’.

Reviewer Rating

Lowdown Dirty Criminals (MA) is now screening at selected cinemas

DM Bradley

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