(director/writer: Gregor Jordan; cinematographer: Malcolm McCulloch; editor: Lee Smith; cast: Heath Ledger (Jimmy), Bryan Brown (Pando), Rose Byrne (Alex), Susie Porter (Dierdre), David Field (Acko), Tom Long (Wally), Tony Forrow (Eddie), Steve Vidler (Michael/The Man), Mariel McClorey (Helen), Evan Sheaves (Pete); Runtime: 102; Meridian Films/REP Distribution; 1999-Australia)
“I’ll give the film its props for having a lot of pep and for being quirky.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A sophomoric action comedy with a distinctive Australian flavor, relying on screw ups to provide the comic situations. Should appeal to teenagers and to those who think like them, and for those who just like a madcap film and don’t concern themselves with plot and character development. I’ll give the film its props for having a lot of pep and for being quirky. It’s much like Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” as its humor is of the physical kind equally mixing a crime caper story with black comedy.
Jimmy (Heath Ledger) is a 19-year-old hunk working as a doorman in a Sydney strip club, who is asked by local underworld kingpin Pando (Bryan Brown) to do a job for him–deliver $10,000 to a woman’s apartment. When that person is not home, Jimmy goes down to the beach to kill some time and then goes for a swim. But his clothes are pinched, along with the money.
The kid is confused as what to do, as he’s not exactly the sharpest pencil in the Kings Cross section of Sydney. Jimmy now has Pando’s incompetent but still deadly gang after him. So he decides to rob a bank to pay him back the money, and goes to his sister-in-law Dee (Porter) to put together a gang made up of two other deadbeat fathers. They were pals of his dead brother, who is doing the voice-over.
Jimmy has also just met a girl fresh from the country, ditzy blonde Alex, (Rose Byrne), who strikes his fancy. The best part of the film was the relationship between these two Einsteins. On their first date they meet at a Chinatown hotel bar on the night before next morning’s bank heist, and he looks at the uninteresting pictures she has been taking all day and the inarticulate couple fall madly in love. But his doorman partner tips Pando off where to find him, and Pando’s gang takes him for a ride in the woods where they plan to shoot him–but their gun misfires. It seems the bullets got into the gangster’s washing machine when they washed their clothes and cannot work now.
Jimmy escapes by using his skill as a boxer (thereby the film’s title).
After they pull off the robbery, despite their ineptness, Jimmy delivers the money to Pando. The film unfortunately doesn’t know how to gracefully end.
Two Hands has been written and directed by Australian Gregor Jordan; this being his first feature. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival of 1999.
It was a harmless entertainment venture, of limited value. It’s one of many recent world-wide films about combining comedy in a urban crime pic, though a new type of pic for the Aussies. This one is forgettable, but somewhat likable because of the lead characters.
REVIEWED ON 7/27/2001 GRADE: C-