Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Three years ago, John V. Soto delivered an intriguing twist on the campus serial killer sub-genre with Needle, showing a natural cinematic talent. He confirms that talent with this highly polished commercial thriller. He is also astute with an eye on the box office - which simply means he wants his film seen by as many people as possible, a wish every filmmaker embraces.
One aspect of that thought process is evident in the casting, casting two siblings with famous brothers (LaPaglia and Hemsworth) in key roles. Of course, this would be a futile gimmick if the siblings were below par, but both deliver admirably. But they are both outshone by Hanna Mangan-Lawrence as a damaged teen with god issues, in the same sort of attention grabbing debut that hurled Jennifer Lawrence to stardom from the indie gem, Winter's Bone.
A strong screenplay coupled with an interesting cinematic structure and great images make this an engaging film with tension and texture. Various layers combine to give characters dimension and the police procedural aspect is handled with punchy dynamics.
Review by Louise Keller:
What I like most about John V. Soto's engaging police procedural cum thriller is that we get more than we bargained for. It's a bit like a road trip - we start in one place before heading in a different direction, the story line weaving and twisting every which way, to form an intriguing jigsaw of deceit and vengeance. Regg Skwarko's editing is good too, allowing the different story strands to seamlessly bring together the many layers of the tale.
The film begins with images of two young girls happily frolicking at the beach, hand in hand. The happiness quickly turns to sorrow with candles, a prayer and tears as we begin to understand the tragedy of a hit and run accident and the death of one of the sisters. Then we are drawn into the reality of Robbie Green (Jonathan LaPaglia), detective, husband and father. LaPaglia is superb in his portrayal of a man struggling with many things - his relationships with his wife, his attractive partner (Viva Bianca), teenage daughters and pressures of the job. We learn even more about him in flashback in chilling scenes with his partner Jason (Liam Hemsworth), who has been murdered.
The discovery of the involvement of two runaway teens (Alex Williams, Hanna Mangan Lawrence) propels the narrative, and the juxtaposition of footage from the rough documentary they are shooting, is effective. Lawrence delivers a terrific performance as Rachel who is all at once vulnerable, out of control and obsessed in her quest to avenge her dead sister. Drugs, corruption and greed are the film's driving elements and the parallel footage of documentary and main action propels the narrative beautifully, bringing high tension and anticipation with it, as the revelations start.
Special mention to Thomas Rouch's score whose tone changes throughout and ends on an ethereal note. If you like a good Aussie thriller, The Reckoning fits the bill.
Published October 2, 2014