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Australia 2004
Directed by
Evan Clarry
95 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Under The Radar

Synopsis: Brandon (Nathan Phillips) is a surfie whose bad behaviour on the beach gets him some community work at a home for the intellectually-disabled. There he meets Trevor (Steady Eddy) and Adrian (Clayton Watson). Together the trio go AWOL in order for Brandon to make it to a surfing competition in Burleigh Heads - things, however, do not turn out as expected.

This is Evan Clarry's second feature. His first, Blurred (2002) marked him as a young man with some talent, considerable ambition and an avid appetite for American teen movies. Part horror, part thriller, part comedy, part road movie, Under The Radar, provides no reason to change that estimation but on the up-side it is considerably more sophisticated in its narrative structure, well photographed by Phil Cross (who also did Blurred) and, particularly in its latter stages has some amusing genre-nodding moments and well-executed action sequences.

In the lead Nathan Phillips is effortlessly charming as the incorrigible Brandon, Steady Eddy's Trevor is a stick-in-your-mind off-beat character and Chloe Maxwell as the hot babe is definitely one to watch. On the other hand Clayton Watson is excruciatingly bad as he clearly (and understandably) struggles to create his character. The film delights in its mongrel status and Clarry evidently aspires to be an Antipodean Tarantino or Rodriguez - with a more experienced writer than first-timer Steve Pratt, who penned this, he may get there.

Pratt's work background is mainly in the corporate advertising sector and as this is funded by the Macquarie Film Corporation, the Nine Network and Hoyts, the same team that has brought us Dirty Deeds (2002), Horseplay (2003) and The Wannabes (2003) amongst other would-be crowd-pleasers, and combined with Clarry's syncretic and evidently commercial take on film-making, there is an obviously exploitative agenda to Under The Radar that means that it will hold little appeal to a reflective audience. That still leaves 90% of the film-going public but then the multiplex's are always bulging with over-hyped, over-here, mega-budget, CGI-enhanced action extravaganzas that will bury this with their dust. Clarry's only hope is a surge of national pride in the youth market or a probably not-too-long wait until the late-night-bong-and-DVD crowd are picking this up at Blockbuster.




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