Improvise, Adapt to the environment, Darwin, Shit Happens, I Ching
OK forgive me for my lack of humor, but this shit is ridiculous. I never want to be the 'get off my lawn' critic, but this is a movie that tries to do for guerilla warfare what Nancy Drew did to detective work. Dumb it down and euthanize it until Tim Robbins can say 'Freedom Fighters, ya know, for kids!' Ive rarely seen such a woeful mismatch of subject matter and tone. This is a film that wants to be both adult and teen, a film that can be a lark but can also have stakes and adult violence. Which one of these aspects the movie is prevalent depends on the scene concerned, and even then its rarely an easy call. At times this schizophrenia and dopeyness can be kind of winning in an utterly shite kind of way but still, not a high point for Stuart Beattie I'm sure.
The plot, such as it was, sees some kids going on a vacation to the wilderness, and in coming back discover their beloved Australia has been invaded by some anonymous Asian country, which by default has to be China. Either way it doesn't really matter, because pretty soon our photogenic kids take to the jungle with AK-47's and blow up bridges like it was the 1960's again. There are many problems with everything that goes on, but its such a stubborn fantasy it barely acknowledges anything about the modern world that gets in its way, like blanket bombing or the inability of anyone to quietly invade a major nation. This all would be fine if it were entertaining, if it were a little less self-serious, but it demands of you to take the world and the stakes seriously and for something this lazy yet block-headed, there's simply nothing doing. This isn't to mention that every single one of the kids is a catalogue model, barely capable of line-readings let alone acting. If there has been a more distancing and flat ensemble teen cast in recent history I sure as hell can't think of it. And spending time becomes pretty arduous after a while, particularly when none of them are getting killed. Seriously movie?
I suppose its ambitious in its own way, but the problem is the budget is so slender that much of the film is spent simply with our heroes talking to each other as if they were real people and not 2D stand-ins in some ill-thought Che Guevara fantasy. That sounds awesome right, but by trying to make a kids movie out of something so innately adult, shit just doesn't translate and I keep waiting for the faceless Chinese bad guys to take off their helmets and say ' I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids!' The swerving between real threat and cartoon threat decapitates the thing before it even gets going, a pretty horrible misfire and what is not turning out to be a banner year in Australian Genre film-making