Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 4 Beans
wo Hands’ was supposed to be the Australian version of ‘Lock, Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels’ which was supposed to be the British version of ‘Pulp Fiction’. I
loved both films. So after stuffing myself with Kahuna burgers and $5 shakes, I picked
up my violin case and headed for George Street.
I normally avoid Sydney’s cinema district like the plague, preferring instead to snaffle
complimentary tickets through work or wait for stuff to come out on video. If I’m
going to plonk down $12.50 to see a movie, it had better be bloody good. Regretably,
The opening scene contained more expletives than my office when we’re on deadline
and the hard rock soundtrack proved intolerable after a few seconds. Here’s what
happened. A group of Sydney thugs drove a young turk out to the middle of nowhere.
He pleaded for mercy. They shot him. The wannabe who met his demise was then
reincarnated as a ghost and was supposed to be the movie’s narrator. Trouble was, he
was none too articulate.
‘If you’ve been through some crap the chances are some guy has been through it
before and written about it,’ he said. And that was about as good as it got.
The next young thug to approach the chopping block was Jimmy played by Aussie
heart-throb du jour Heath Ledger. OK, this bloke may have a buff bod but he seems to
specialise in roles that don’t call for much apart from standing around and looking
stupid. He did this with great aplomb in the dreadful “Black Rock” - the story of a
group of Newcastle no-hopers who raped a drunken schoolgirl, bashed her head with a
rock then told a series of lies to the police.
In “Two Hands”, we first encounter Jimmy doing a spot of illegal street fighting. Then
he’s seen trying to be a spruiker outside one of those sleaze dens in Kings Cross,
Sydney’s red light district. Now Kings Cross spruikers are meant to stand out the front
of some sleazy dive, way-lay tourists and wax lyrical about the women inside. Jimmy
didn’t. He just shifted from one foot to another and looked stupid. The only time he
showed any animation was when a girl called Alex (Rose Byrne) showed up with a
Minolta slung around her neck.
‘Hi,’ she said.
‘Hi,’ he said.
You could tell straight away Alex was meant to be the love interest, but the
conversation never got deeper than that. Also, I had a lot of trouble suspending my
disbelief when Alex said she was from the country. I’ve lived in the country. I’ve seen
what they do to people in tie-dye shirts with obvious regrowth. It ain’t pretty.
But I digress. At this stage, Jimmy’s main concern wasn’t copping off with Alex. It
was getting into organised crime. Trouble is, he couldn’t organise crime if you gave
him an instruction book. Despite this, he somehow manages to catch the eye of a
Sydney crime boss called Pando (Bryan Brown) and lines up a spot of work.
The gig is easy. Borrow somebody’s souped up car. Drive down to Bondi Beach and
lay $10,000 on a chick called Sharon. Pando neglects to mention that Sharon is a chain
smoker both of cigarettes and illegal substances, indulges in frequent coughing fits and
isn’t long for this world. So while Sharon’s shuffling off her mortal coil inside, Jimmy
shifts from one foot to another and looks stupid. Finally, he takes the cash and heads
down to the beach.
He sees a girl who looks kinda like Alex heading into the surf, so he strips off his gear
and dashes off into the sea after her. As a precautionary measure, he buries the money
in the sand. It’s promptly dug up by a couple of street kids who blow most of it on the
best oversized, LA gangsta wear that Tommy Hilfiger has to offer. So Jimmy’s up the
creek without a paddle. But wait, it gets worse. Somebody steals the car he borrowed
for the ill-fated gig and further indebts him to the Mob.
Mind you, the Mob you see in this film are a bit of a joke. We’re not talking suited Al
Pacino clones who like to play Mozart while they chop people into little pieces. We’re
talking guys like Pando who make origami with their kids, play Scrabble with their
hired guns (getting triple-word scores for “exquisite”) and accidentally put their bullets
through the washing machine. In other words, we’re talking idiots.
Jimmy decides to hang out with his sister Dierdre (Susie Porter) until the coast is clear.
A tough little cookie with several illegitimate brats clinging to her skirts, Dierdre
suggests Jimmy do a bank job to recoup his losses. Enter Wozza (Steve Le
Marquand), a heavily tattooed dreg who provides some of the film’s only comic
moments. I liked Wozza immensely. At least he showed a bit of animation to counter
the slack jawed Jimmy and the “lights are on but nobody’s home” Alex.
Once the bank job is organised, Jimmy calls Alex and asks her out on a date at the Star
Hotel in Chinatown - surely one of the most visible spots in the whole CBD if you’ve
got the Mob after you. Through a series of furtive cellular phone conversations, Pando
and Co find out where Jimmy is and...well, they don’t exactly give chase. They’re too
lethargic for that. Let’s just say they hang out at the place where Jimmy and Alex are
most likely to appear, then nab them.
Alex is given a taxi fare home and Jimmy is driven out to deserted bushland for an
execution. Only Pando forgot that he’d put his bullets through the washing machine
and nobody’s got spares. Does it get any dumber than this? Ooh, yes!
Jimmy absconds and manages to keep his rendevous with Wozza for the bank job. It
all goes without a hitch until Wozza falls over and knocks himself unconscious. So
what does Jimmy do? Hangs around and gives the tellers plenty of time to call the
police. Then finally, he manages to drag Wozza and the money out the door, blasts the
coppers full of lead and drives off.
No additional police show up and the route they take is miraculously free of cars. In
fact, the only vehicle on the road appears to belong to a Sydney radio station which
seems intent on giving Jimmy $10,000 in prize money because he’s got their sticker on
his bumper bar.
The story ends with Jimmy repaying his debt to Pando, getting beaten up for his
trouble and flying off to the North Coast with Alex. Pando, meanwhile, is gunned
down by one of the street kids who stole the original $10,000. Poetic justice? No.
There’s nothing poetic about this movie. It’s just a feeble attempt to jump on the
Quentin Tarrantino bandwagon.
“Pulp Fiction” and “Lock Stock” weren’t realistic, either. But at least they had a bit of
style about them, plus semi-decent actors and killer soundtracks. If crime fables were
shoes, “Two Hands” would be a pair of fluffy slippers in a rack full of stilettos.
PS: I’m only giving this four beans because I’m an Aussie and believe in supporting the
local product, no matter how awful it is.
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