Mystery Road (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 19, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“Mystery Road” is an Australian low-budget crime film that doesn’t look low-budget, nor does it feel like a low-budget film. It’s entertaining and has a realistic feel due to its setting and and involvement of the aboriginal community. Ivan Sen’s “Mystery Road” may not be a great action film but it was an entertaining crime film worth watching!
TITLE: Mystery Road
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 120 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS HD-MA 5.1, Closed Captions
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Directed by Ivan Sen
Written by Ivan Sen
Produced by David Jowsey
Executive Producer: Gary Hamilton
Associate Producer: Aaron Pedersen
Music by Ivan Sen
Cinematography by Ivan Sen
Edited by Ivan Sen
Production Design by Matthew Putland
Costume Design by Vanessa Loh
Aaron Pedersen as Detective Jay Swan
Hugo Weaving as Johnno
Ryan Kwanten as Pete Bailey
Jack Thompson as Charlie Murray
Tony Barry as Sergeant
Robert Mammone as Constable Roberts
Tasma Walton as Mary
Damian Walshe-Howling as Wayne
David Field as Mr. Bailey
Bruce Spence as Jim the Coroner
Jack Charles as Old boy
Tricia Whitton as Crystal
Siobhan Binge as Tarni
Indigenous cowboy detective Jay Swan returns to his outback hometown to solve the murder of a teenage girl, whose body is found under the highway trucking route out of town. Alienated from both the white-dominated police force and his own community, including his teenage daughter (now connected to the murdered girl) Jay stands alone in his determination to fight back – for his town, and his people.
From filmmaker Ivan Sen (director of “Beneath Clouds” and “Toomelah”) comes the Australian crime film “Mystery Road” starring Aaron Pedersen (“Water Rats”, “City Homicide”, “Wildside”), Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, “V for Vendetta”), Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”, “Summerland”, “Home and Away”), Jack Thompson (“Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones”) and Tasma Walton (“Blue Heelers”, “Little Oberon”).
Released in Australia back in the summer of 2013, “Mystery Road” arrives in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
“Mystery Road” is set in the rural town of Winton, Queensland and Detective Jay Swan (portrayed by Aaron Pedersen) is contacted to investigate a murder in his old hometown. When he goes to investigate, he finds a dead teenage girl named Julie Mason, a friend of his daughter.
As for his daughter, Crystal, he hasn’t really spoken to her or his ex-wife Mary (portrayed by Tasma Walton) all that much and when he returns, he finds his daughter not wanting to speak to him and his ex-wife in an abusive relationship.
While his former police colleagues are cautious around Jay and his investigation, as he investigates the crime, he starts to learn that Julie was a drug addict who had sex with truck drivers for money. But still, he doesn’t believe she died from an attack from a dog but possibly murder.
Jay starts to wonder how the Winton police force is trying to keep him at bay, so Jay starts to follow his police colleagues, Johnno (portrayed by Hugo Weaving) and Robbo (portrayed by Robert Mammone) and wonder what they may be up to.
But when his investigation leads Jay discovering that another teenage girl has gone missing. Who is responsible for the murders and do the local police officers know anything about who is responsible?
“Mystery Road” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is warm and picture quality is very good, with a good amount of detail during closeups. A lot of the shots for “Mystery Road” are shot outdoors and picture quality is very good. I didn’t see any problems with artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Mystery Road”” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is crystal clear and the soundtrack is primarily dialogue-driven but there are action moments (i.e. rifle shots and gun shots) which utilize the surround channels but for the most part, the lossless soundtrack is center and front channel driven. Subtitles are presented in Closed Captions.
“Mystery Road” comes with the following special features:
- Making Of – Featuring two featurettes: “The Story” (3:58) which features a behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the director and cast and “High Profile Cast” (4:46) which is about how filmmaker Ivan Sen casts his own talent and non-actors from the community.
- Interviews with Cast – (20:22) Featuring individual interviews with Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Jack Thompson and Tony Barry.
- Trailer – (2:14) Theatrical trailer for “Mystery Road”.
“Mystery Road” comes with a slipcover.
Ivan Sen’s “Mystery Road” is an entertaining crime film and because of its setting and overall style, it makes for an original, entertaining film!
An independent, low-budget film which features filmmaker Ivan Sen as the writer, director, musician, cinematographer, editor and casting director. Suffice to say, it’s a film that requires plenty of responsibility from Sen to do multiple roles in order to keep the budget down but when it comes to creating an Australian film, especially starring Aaron Pedersen, one of Australia’s well-known aboriginal actor in a action/crime film that revolves around his character, it’s a film that takes a big step forward for positive portrayals of aboriginal talent in a film.
“Mystery Road” feels real thanks to its setting in a rural area but also for Ivan Sen and actor Aaron Pedersen bringing in non-actors from the community and taking part in this film.
Taking on films that is set amongst an aboriginal community is not always easy considering that race relations are still problematic in Australia. But it helps the film when you have talents such as Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten involved in your film.
Pedersen plays a detective returning back home but the homecoming is not at all welcome. From the police force not being as supportive of Jay Swan and even seeing people of the aboriginal community feeling different towards him because he is with law enforcement. He also has an alcoholic wife that is angry that Jay has not been visiting his daughter and when things start to hit close to home for Jay, during his investigation of what may be multiple murders… He risks his life in order to find the truth. May it be against the criminals or even a possibly corrupt police force, he’s determined to find the murderers.
It’s an interesting take on the banal story of cop coming to a community that doesn’t trust law enforcement but in this case, it’s more or less because we see an aboriginal character who was able to leave town and make something of himself but coming back and see that he’s not necessarily seen as their equal. There is an uneasiness of race without the racial tension we see in American films but it’s more of a different feel of one of aboriginal roots but also a man who left the area to make himself something.
Hugo Weaving does a good job of playing a shifty cop that seems like am an up to no good and Ryan Kwanten puts away his usual cool guy character and plays one of the antagonists of the film.
As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is very good and Ivan Sen was able to capture the dry, hot setting in the outback and the lossless audio soundtrack features crystal clear audio. You also get a few special features on the making of the film, the casting of the film and more.
Overall, “Mystery Road” is an Australian low-budget crime film that doesn’t look low-budget, nor does it feel like a low-budget film. It’s entertaining and has a realistic feel due to its setting and and involvement of the aboriginal community.
Ivan Sen’s “Mystery Road” may not be a great action film but it was an entertaining crime film worth watching!
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