Movie Review - Son of a Gun

I didn't know anything about this film when I sat down to watch it. I didn't even know that it was an Australian film. Written and directed by Julius Avery, an Australian filmmaker making his feature debut here, this dramatic thriller is set in western Australia, capturing a not-often-seen landscape but also with a script injected with a lot of surprises, not just in a visual manner but in the narrative as well.

There have been a lot of great actors and movie stars to come from Australia. Some like Mel Gibson have flamed out. Others like Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman are still going strong. Hollywood loves young, good-looking or just sheer, hot, Australian actors. The rise of Chris Hemsworth is an example. His being cast as Thor in the Marvel Studios films helped, but the casting of Sam Worthington and Jai Courtney in a lot of big-budget or potential blockbusters are more examples.

Yet, many would argue that Hemsworth, Worthington and Courtney are not the best actors and probably coast more on their looks and especially their large, muscular bodies, which makes them more apt for big-budget, action flicks. Thankfully, the young Australian actor here doesn't fall into the same trappings.

Brenton Thwaites is the young Australian actor who stars here as Jesse Ryan White aka JR. Yes, he is a good-looking actor who's fit. However, he doesn't appear to be on the action film track. He did have a good year last year with his appearance or starring in four major motion pictures, including one opposite Angelina Jolie and another opposite Meryl Streep. His track though appears to be more in-line with someone like Ryan Kwanten where he goes and takes more interesting roles in independent films in his native country where he gets to really flex his acting muscle.

Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge! and Big Fish) also stars as Brendon Lynch, a convicted, bank robber who is in prison for 20 years-to-life. JR is put into prison and meets Brendon, and, being that I didn't know anything about this film, I wasn't sure if it would go the way of I Love You, Phillip Morris or A Prophet. Brendon is an intelligent man who likes to play chess, but he's got a highly fierce and aggressive side.

Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair and Anna Karenina) co-stars as Tasha, a young woman employed by a mobster. She's smart and strong, and unlike JR doesn't have a fear of swimming. As the only female character, she of course becomes the love interest. All of that is too typical, but it does help to illustrate Avery's idea of two distinctions about survival in life.

Brendon introduces this idea of the chimp versus the bonobo. Brendon believes that each can be reduced to chimps being more prosperous because they're fighters, whereas bonobos haven't been as prosperous because they're not fighters. Bonobos are lovers. Brendon's position is that bonobos are weaker as a result, but, through JR's experiences in this film, we come to see if that's actually true.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.


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