★★★½ - STUFF
- It was supposed to be a simple job.
Former pizza delivery driver Freddy (James Rolleston) and his feckless mate Marvin’s (Samuel Austin) criminal careers were to start with a dual dairy robbery and cake collection for their boss. However, the boys’ desire of ultimately getting “high on the hog” results in them becoming a little over ambitious. Deciding the store’s ATM would be a much more lucrative score, Freddy succeeds only in squashing the patisserie creation and wrecking crimelord Spiggs’ (Scott Wills) beloved car “Shazza”.
While tempted to severely punish the hapless pair, Spiggs instead decides to put their “sweet little debt” to the test. Their new mission? Find and kill Donnie Kong, the man his wife had an affair with.
Freddy has until “high noon” to get them back “square as a bear” via Donnie’ death, or Marvin will be walking with a permanent limp. It’s a task not made any easier thanks to a case of mistaken identity, crossing paths with two henchman of the much-feared Upholsterer and a run-in with a teenage motelier named Barbara.
After the tonal eccentricities and Bain-alities of the lamentable This Town, this is a much more satisfying Kiwi black comedy. Screenwriter David Brechin-Smith (The Strip, The Insider Guides... The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell) has a track-record of creating colourful characters who spout colourful dialogue and the denizens of this “city at the arse end of nowhere” certainly don’t disappoint.
This kooky little crime caper is filled with memorable moments and terrific one-liners (“don’t make me hit the fish”) that keep the gossamer-thin plot afloat. This is film where the fractured narrative threatens to detract from the story and the central leads are outshone by the support players, in this case a brilliantly cast (but under-used) Rebecca Gibney as the Upholsterer, Cohen Holloway and Robbie Magusiva’s henchmen and the aforementioned take-no-prisoners tween accommodation provider (Wellington actor Olivia Morphew in a star-making turn).
Director Paul Murphy (Second-Hand Wedding, Love Birds) deserves credit for keeping the action and laughs coming thick and fast and putting together an eclectic Kiwi soundtrack that includes choice cuts by everyone from Supergroove to Blerta. However, at times, there’s a little too much sense of style over substance, a touch over-egging of the Guy Ritchie-esque swagger and maybe one too many reminders of 2001’s similarly themed Stickmen.
But if you’re simply after a slice of action and a good laugh, then Lowdown Dirty Criminals could be just the evening’s entertainment you’re looking for.
- James Croot, STUFF
Lowdown Dirty Criminals is now playing at Light House Cinema!