Red Hill (2010) Directed by Patrick Hughes. With Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley and Tommy Lewis.
Writer-director Patrick Hughes’s first feature length release (he’s since been hired to helm The Expendables 3), is a modern day revenge-fuelled western set in the picturesque high country of Australia.
The film begins with some strikingly composed establishing shots of the natural landscape, which are used effectively to create a mood of impending danger. We’re then introduced to Shane Cooper, a young police officer on his first day, newly re-assigned to the remote town of Red Hill…a place with a dark past. All the classic staples of the western are embraced in the early stages, and with the aid of captivating photography, the film has a enough initial intrigue to keep us invested.
What ensues are promising moments of menace, offset by key incidents of aforementioned cliché, which, undermine the ably constructed first two thirds of the film. Red Hill is a long way from being a bad film, but it’s disappointing to see a director getting so side-tracked by the past, that his overall tone goes from riding very capably on its own merits, to a blunt-ended pastiche of better films.
Early visual clues might give you the keys to the final act twist a little too early, as do many of the rather telegraphed plot points, which make for a formulaic experience. While strikingly established, it’s is all too keen to embrace the history of the western, rather than to carving out any of its own.