True History Of The Kelly Gang Review
What’s It About?
The story of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws who took on the authorities in the 1870s.
Who’s In It?
George MacKay (Pride, Captain Fantastic, & more recently 1917)
Essie Davis (The Babadook, Mindhorn, & more recently Assassin’s Creed)
Other notables include:
Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, & more recently The Loudest Voice)
Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, Mad Max: Fury Road, & more recently The Favourite)
Charlie Hunnam (Sons Of Anarchy, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, & more recently The Gentlemen)
Director: Justin Kerzel (Snowtown, Macbeth, & more recently Assassin’s Creed)
Despite a slight misstep with videogame adaptation Assassin’s Creed, director Justin Kerzel returns to his gory, sensational and cinematic best with True History Of The Kelly Gang. As with his retelling of Macbeth, this tale of outlaw Ned Kelly is a bleak, bloody and brutal affair.
Taking us back to his youth, we find a young Kelly eking out an existence with a drunk for a father and a mother who pimps herself out for money. With terrible role models for parents, and countless examples of British soldiers abusing their power and position, things look pretty bleak for the young lad, and then he is taken under the wing of infamous and ruthless rogue Harry Power, unaware that he has been sold to Power by his mother.
Growing into a fiery and muscular young man, Kelly eventually returns home, reconnecting with his family, falling in love, and falling in love with a girl at the local brothel, and befriending an English constable – all of which should be a positive, but actually add up to an impending doom.
Justin Kerzel’s film is actually a pretty tough watch, highlighting the bleak hardships undergone by the disadvantaged at that time. Well shot and impactful, it really hits home with Ned Kelly as a young boy, superbly played by Orlando Schwerdt (his butchery of a cow being a particularly striking moment), highlighting his strained relationships with his mother, the brilliant Essie Davis, his drunk father, the bullying English constable, played by Charlie Hunnam, and his terrifying father-figure Harry Power, the towering Russell Crowe.
Once he transitions to an adult, the cast is no less impressive, with a great turn by George McKay in the lead role, and strong support from a weaselly Nicholas Hoult and the remarkable but all too brief Thomasin McKenzie, but the pace of the story drops off a little as the dynamics of the gang develop, before picking up once more for the explosive final act.
In A Nutshell:
A bleak, punchy, punky portrayal of the famed outlaw, with fine performances but its pacing drops off in the second half.
The pacing of the film drops off in the second half