Two Hands


Start with a bang: Jimmy (Ledger, left) is in big trouble when he crosses crime boss Pando (Brown, right) and his thugs (Long and Field).
dir-scr Gregor Jordan
with Heath Ledger, Bryan Brown, Rose Byrne, Susie Porter, Steve Vidler, David Field, Tom Long, Tony Forrow, Matthew Wilkinson, Moya O'Sullivan
99/Australia 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
With a strong visual style and a solid sense of character, writer-director Gregor Jordan crafts Two Hands into one of the most memorable films to come from Australia in years. The title refers to making an honest living (with your two hands), and right from the beginning Jordan piles on the irony and dry wit even as things get grisly and sometimes terrifying.

Jimmy (Ledger) is a bouncer at a seedy Sydney strip club, so when the local crime thug Pando (Brown, in one of his best roles ever) offers him a job he jumps at it. It's simple: Deliver ten thousand dollars to an address in Bondi. But of course, it goes horribly wrong, and soon Pando and his henchmen are after Jimmy, who while dodging bullets is falling in love with a friend's sister (Byrne). Meanwhile, Jimmy's deceased brother (a previous victim of Pando's rage) has dug his way out of hell to help Jimmy get through this.

That makes it sound like a wacky comedy thriller, and while there are similarities with Tarantino and, more strongly, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this is actually much more realistic, letting the humour come naturally through the characters and their deeply ironic situations. The plot is absolutely fearless, propelling Jimmy through a series of events that nearly makes your head spin with sudden, unexpected violence (or the sudden, unexpected lack of it). Bright and colourful, edgy and gruesome, hilarious and energetic, the film constantly defies expectations as it twists and turns to the clever finale. And in the end there's a real statement about the effect revenge has on the human heart. Terrific stuff.

[18--strong adult themes, grisly violence, language] 11.Nov.99
UK release 7.Jul.00

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"Thought this movie was pretty good. Enjoyed it a lot. I've recommended it to a few people already." --Lefty Gomez, net.

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1999 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall