Ryan Kwanten, Hugo Weaving, Jillian Nguyen
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…stylish and impressively realised…
A truly gifted writer/director, Ivan Sen (who also shoots, cuts and scores his movies to boot) has beautifully and disturbingly chronicled the Australian indigenous experience via his genre-jumping work on the stunning local crime one-two of Mystery Road and Goldstone, the haunting visual poetry of Beneath Clouds, and the gritty realism of Toomelah. Along with Wayne Blair, Warwick Thornton and Rachel Perkins, Sen is unquestionably one of this country’s essential indigenous filmmakers.
As evidenced by his 2009 sci-fi curio Dreamland, however, Sen has concerns far outside the here and now. And this is where he goes with his latest film, Loveland, a sci-fi mini-epic rumbling with all manner of ideas and conceptual flights around where the human race is headed.
In a futuristic Hong Kong riven with squalid neon and bustling streets filled with people from all around the world, young but world weary assassin Jack (Ryan Kwanten) is instantly smitten with beautiful nightclub singer, April (Jillian Nguyen). But as their relationship deepens, Jack’s body inexplicably starts to crumble and fail. Desperate for answers, Jack tracks down reclusive scientist Doctor Bergman (Hugo Weaving), whose research will take the young assassin down an even darker emotional road.
Weaving in themes of artificial intelligence, machine domination, paranoia, corporate rule and malfeasance, and the diminishing value of the human race, Loveland is high ambition on a mid-level budget.
Sen wrings every cent out of it, creating a wholly believable futuristic world by building upon existing real world streetscapes with ingeniously utilised VFX and studio creations.
The characters, meanwhile, are richly engaging, while the performances are across-the-board superb, with Kwanten doing some of his finest against-type work yet, and Weaving at his rumpled, magisterial best.
Obviously echoing Blade Runner with its dystopian flourishes and burnt out narration, the stylish and impressively realised Loveland is a very strong entry in Australia’s way too small sci-fi canon.