Sydney. Jack Malloy (Ray Liotta), an ex-pat American, teams up with Australia gangster / drug dealer Yates (Dominic Purcell) for a large scale heroin shipment hijack. But Malloy has a heart attack on the way to the heist and Mack gets a jail term after federal police intervene at the crime scene. Three years later on the Gold Coast, Malloy has gone straight, working at a timber yard and is about to propose to his fiancée, Kelly (Vanessa Gray), when Yates shows up, out of jail a year early. He forces Malloy to partner up for one last big job or he'll spill the beans on Malloy's criminal past to Kelly. Again events spiral out of control.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A gutsy, edgy and taut thriller, Bad Karma knows its genre chops and uses them effectively for a tense 84 minutes with not a moment wasted. Helped by a terrific central performance by Ray Liotta as Jack Malloy, the crim whose almost fatal heart attack turns his crappy, drug ridden, drink soaked life around, the film powers along to a fully satisfying conclusion.
Dominic Purcell is wonderfully loathsome as Malloy's old partner in crime who comes back to haunt him in his newfound, 9 to 5 life and Vanessa Gray is splendid as Kelly, the woman who makes Malloy's life complete.
Top support from Aaron Pedersen as Malloy's workplace mate and fellow ex-crim, Bear, ready to do whatever it takes to help the new, clean, decent Malloy.
If the redemption aspect of the film is not entirely original, it is entirely well executed. Director Suri Krishnamma excels at getting us to engage with the characters and grabs us with the way he handles the steely-edged screenplay. It's every bit as accomplished as any Hollywood thriller, perhaps with a grittier, more authentic edge.
All departments contribute and the music provides the tracks on which the film speeds along. Great work by all concerned.
Review by Louise Keller:
Set on the Gold Coast, revenge and redemption are at odds in this well made psychological thriller, where the laid-back lifestyle makes for a resonant contrast to its gangster undertones. Concise storytelling and good direction set out the story elements simply, allowing us easily to get involved. Ray Liotta is in top form as he heads a solid cast in this slick American and Australian co-production, delivering tension, action - with a touch of romance.
The opening sequence (set in Sydney) introduces us to Molloy (Ray Liotta), whose life is clearly out of control. A heroin addict and alcoholic, it is only the hand of fate that stops him from participating in a doomed drug deal with his bad-ass partner Mack (Dominic Purcell). Given a second chance after a near-fatal heart attack, when we next meet Molloy on the sunny Gold Coast, he is a new man, inspired by Kelly (Vanessa Gray), the new woman in his life. Her five year plan may be for her jewellery business, but it certainly includes Molloy, although she knows nothing about his dark past and he does not know how to tell her.
It is after making love one night, as Molloy heads down to the local convenience store to pick up some food and flowers when Mack reappears, insisting Molloy joins him in one last heist. Molloy becomes inadvertently complicit in the hold up and the murders that ensue, guaranteeing that Mack has plenty to hold over Molloy. English director Suri Krishnamma does a fine job keeping suspense and tension going as Mack creeps back into Molloy's life. Much of the tension is created by uncertainty; it is not what you see on screen, but it is the dark shadows and fear of what might happen that makes our skin crawl.
Aaron Pedersen is terrific as Bear, Molloy's work colleague and confidant, while Gray is convincing as Kelly. The film's essential dynamic lies between Molloy and Mack and Purcell colours his villain effectively, making him an evil and terrifying loose cannon. Liotta has always been good in these roles, but he seems especially good here, showing vulnerability as he clutches to his last chance of a new life and all that goes with it. Sydney and Gold Coast locations look great through cinematographer Nino Martinetti's lens and at just under 90 minutes, the film is perfectly paced, aided by an upbeat score by Bryce Jacobs. Thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.
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BAD KARMA (MA15+)
CAST: Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell, Vanessa Gray, Aaron Pedersen, Andy McPhee, Brad McMurray, Carmel Rose, Robyn Moore, Jordanna Allen
PRODUCER: Dale Bradely, Grant Bradley, Mark Holder, Mark Williams
DIRECTOR: Suri Krishnamma
SCRIPT: Steve Allrich, Aleve Mei Loh
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nino Martinetti ACS
EDITOR: Brad Lindenmayer, Gary Woodyard
MUSIC: Bryce Jacobs
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jen O'Connell
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: IFM / Filmways
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 23, 2012