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By John Chard January 30, 2017

Pulpy Neo-Noir in the Australian Outback.

Swerve is written and directed by Craig Lahiff. It stars Emma Booth, Jason Clarke, David Lyons, Vince Colosimo and Travis MacMahon. Music is by Paul Grabowsky and cinematography by David Foreman.

It was done absolutely no favours by the marketing department, the studio executives clearly not having a clue what sort of film they had on their hands. Even the home format releases are adorned with enticing slogans such as “The New Mad Max” and etc, which is utter tosh and only of use to dupe high energy action film fans into buying the product.

Swerve is a clinical piece of neo-noir, it stabs its tongue into its bloody cheek whilst adhering with great success to the conventional rules of film noir. The characterisations, the triple pronged narrative front and visual ticks are all here, with a healthy slice of sly humour sprinkled over the top of things.

Story will be familiar to purveyors of noir and its devilish off-shoots. Man comes across the remnants of an auto-mobile crash, bringing him into contact with a gorgeous lady and her less than stable husband. Oh and there’s a suitcase full of cash as well. From there it’s welcome to noirville – Oz style, as characters battle hard to keep out of the sticky cobweb woven by Lahiff.

Violence and action marries up with the cunning machinations of the characters, where of course nothing is ever as it seems, the means and motivations shady at best. Grabowsky serves up a quirky music score that probably shouldn’t fit an Australian neo-noir, but it really does, especially upon reflection of the story at pic’s culmination.

Lahiff and Foreman offer up some super cinematography. The Australian vistas are sumptuous, the sun drenched back drops perfect for a sweaty tale of dupe, divide and domination. Classical noir visuals are used with great effect, as shadows and rippled reflections drive home the psychological discord pulsing away in the plot.

Booth (The Boys Are Back), Clarke (Texas Killing Fields/Lawless) and Lyons (Save Your Legs!) turn in crackling performances for their director, with Booth standing out as she sizzles and sauces the femme fatale role that shows an acting talent few give her credit for.

Problems exist with a couple of the action sequences, Lahiff not a dab hand at constructing with conviction. Elsewhere the comparisons with films of a similar ilk, better ones, serve a familiarity factor that some may find hard to forgive (Lahiff practically remaking his own Fever from 1989). Yet this deserves better than its current low ranking on internet sites. A victim of poor marketing as votes from those not expecting a neo-noir have been held against it. Neo buffs should check it out. 7.5/10

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