Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination'  Starring Ethan Hawke SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination' Starring Ethan Hawke From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: Aussie Thriller 'Swerve' Starring Jason Clarke Shift Gears, But Never Excites

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 6, 2013 at 12:07PM

"10 minutes won't change my life," Colin (David Lyons) quips at a juncture during "Swerve," and of course, those words are soon prophetic. The Aussie thriller written and directed by Craig Lahiff is set in a small outback town called Neverest (get it?) for a reason: over the next 86 minutes, there will be few moments of pause for any of the characters ensnared in this film noir-style tale, but unfortunately it eventually comes at the expense of an already stretched thin suspension of disbelief.
2
Swerve

"10 minutes won't change my life," Colin (David Lyons) quips at a juncture during "Swerve," and of course, those words are soon prophetic. The Aussie thriller written and directed by Craig Lahiff is set in a small outback town called Neverest (get it?) for a reason: over the next 86 minutes, there will be few moments of pause for any of the characters ensnared in this film noir-style tale, but unfortunately it eventually comes at the expense of an already stretched thin suspension of disbelief.

While the issues of the film are myriad, they are all connected by a certain gracelessness both in the script and in execution that mars the movie right from its overly complicated opening. Essentially, a double cross during a drug deal leaves one man dead, and another beheaded following a car accident with two other vehicles. In one car is the aforementioned Colin, who is quickly established as the film's everyman. In the other, is the easy-on-the-eyes Jina (Emma Booth), who you won't be surprised to learn is the femme fatale. Stumbling across a suitcase full of cash, Colin keeps that knowledge to himself, drops Jina off at home and then heads to the local police station in Neverest report the accident and turn over the money. Manning the desk is Neverest's lead cop on a crew of few, Frank (Jason Clarke). He's an abusive, quick tempered, sleazy sort who just happens to be married to Jina. Circumstances prevent Colin from leaving town so he's forced to spend the evening at Frank and Jina's. You can see where this is going.

Swerve

And at least for a short while, "Swerve" is somewhat compelling, pitting three people of vague, sometimes intentionally obscured motives around a suitcase full of cash. It's a classic setup, that should be a no brainer to deliver with tight, taut impact, but Lahiff soon loses focus on what kind of story he's trying to tell. The cash eventually takes a backseat to a story about disposing a body and then in the final act, it becomes a straight up chase movie (and that's not to mention an emotionless, Terminator-esque killer (Travis McMahon) who also has his eye on the cash jammed into the proceedings). There is probably an elegant way to navigate the shifting shape of the genre elements, but Lahiff struggles to find it, leaving "Swerve" to lurch clumsily, often with increasingly strained contrivances to force everyone to stay in the story.

But even when Lahiff does manage to build some decent tension, the distractingly inappropriate score by Paul Grabowsky undercuts it entirely. Jaunty and Tex-Mex flavored, its dated desert-style motifs seem more suited to a road trip comedy from the '80s or '90s starring Steve Martin or Chevy Chase. In fact, the score is so jarring out of place, it sounds like it belongs to an entirely different movie each time it appears. Completely and utterly mismatched with anything dramatically happening on the screen, Grabowsky's work is totally out of sync.

Swerve

However, good characters and writing can triumph over creative mistakes, but as "Swerve" continues to lumber on in a second half that continually seems to stretch to reach a feature-length running time, it becomes clear what one of the biggest problems of the movie is: Colin. His moral righteousness, particularly during the third act, is incongruous with rest of the movie which sets up a world of amorality. Even as events get nasty, Colin's regular guy decency makes less and less sense, and also makes him uninteresting. The best noir tales find the characters morally compromised, but in "Swerve," no one is forced to reckon with their choices with any real stakes: the characters are either already duplicitous or in the case of Colin, not. And when it becomes certain nothing will challenge those traits, the movie just becomes an exercise in plotting.

But even plotting needs performers and at least Clarke and Booth keep things mildly engaging. The former has fun biting into a part that in the second half especially gives him an arc with the sort stuff actors likely have lots of fun chewing on. Booth's Jina wisely plays her role with the slow boil patience of a sultry snake ready to strike. And in scenes together, the two provide "Swerve" with its few moments of truly electricity. But for the most part, the most shocking thing about "Swerve" is how utterly straightforward it is. [D]

This article is related to: Swerve, Reviews, Review, Jason Clarke


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates