Under the Radar (2004) / Thriller-Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated but probably R for violence, language, drug use and some sexuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Nathan Phillips, Clayton Watson, Steady Eddy, Chloe Maxwell, Robert Menzies, Syd Brisbane, Gyton Grantley
Director: Evan Clarry
Screenplay: Steve Pratt
Review published June 3, 2005
Your guess is as good as mine as to why the film is entitled Under the Radar, and I'm similarly at a loss as to whether or not this is a comedy with a amount of thriller elements or if it's a thriller with some funny moments. As directed by Evan Clarry (Blurred), there is a noticeable lack of focus to his film that makes one wonder just what kind of movie he was trying to go for in almost every way. That's not to say that this can't be enjoyable, as it does have its occasional moments, but in the end, there's not a whole lot to be said about a film with seemingly nothing to say of its own.
Aspiring pro surfer Brandon (Phillips, Australian Rules) can't keep his emotions in check, leading him to assault a mentally disabled man on the beach, forcing him to spend some time doing community service at a home for people with mental impairments. While there, he befriends another young man named Adrian (Watson, The Kid from the Matrix sequels), who has a severe memory problem which only allows him to remember things for 10 or 20 minutes at a time. Along with a kooky cerebral palsy patient named Trevor (Steady Eddy, Lucky Break), they set about taking a day trip to the beach for fun and sun. However, things take a turn when they pick up a sexy hitchhiker (Chloe Maxwell) and are witness to a murder, putting all their lives in jeopardy as they get in the way of warring groups of hoodlums.
The screenplay by first-time screenwriter Steven Pratt appears to be an attempt to mix several of the more memorable crime genre flicks of the last decade, perhaps being favorites of his. The amnesiac with the very short term memory that has to write things down to be remember when he forgets is straight out of Memento. There are also elements of Tarantino throughout, from the story developing in non-linear fashion, a la Pulp Fiction, to the amusing arguments the would-be killers have before they are to off one of their intended victims.
There are some funny bits, but not really enough to recommend the film as a whole, especially when it goes into thriller mode, making the entire plot seem rather uneven in tone. Energetic performances by the film's stars almost keeps this afloat, but clearly, this production should have been far more realized before they started to roll film.
©2005 Vince Leo