This is the story of Ned Kelly, and how he came to lead the notorious Kelly Gang in Australia. He grew up in a rural area near Melbourne. His father died in jail when he was twelve, and his mother tried to provide for her family by taking in many lovers.
At one point she sells him to the bushranger Harry Power, played by Russel Crowe (“The Gladiator”, “A Beautiful Mind”). Here young Ned gets his first taste of a violent life. Adult Ned, played by George MacKay (“1917”, “Peter Pan”), defends his sister’s honour from the horrible Constable Fitzpatrick, played by Nicholas Hoult (“Warm Bodies”, “The Favourite”).
Thus begins the chase. The policemen are on their tail, and as the Kelly Gang grows, so does the danger. Will Ned Kelly make it out alive? Or will the police catch up with him?
The movie is directed by Justin Kurzel (“Macbeth”, “Assassin’s Creed”). The story is based on the novel written by Peter Carey, and it’s another recounting of the legend of real life outlaw Ned Kelly. The movie doesn’t shy away from doing the character of Ned Kelly justice. He’s a despicable person, in my opinion. This is not a Robin Hood-like movie, with a charismatic hero taking down the big man. Ned Kelly is an outlaw, doing bad deeds.
The roughness of his character is reflected in the scenery. His childhood home is surrounded by burned out trees and nothingness, reflecting the emptiness in this man. His character drives the entire movie. Unfortunately I had a little bit of trouble understanding everything that was said, with their Australian accents being thicker than a brick wall.
The cast does their characters justice. There is Ned Kelly’s mother Ellen Kelly, played by Essie Davis (“Assassin’s Creed“, “The Babadook”). She’s incredibly important to Ned, and Essie portrays her brilliantly. She brings a certain ruthlessness to the character, and her devotion to her family is admirable.
Russel Crowe is in this movie, something I didn’t see coming. I do love the duality of his character, the scary but sometimes kind Harry Power. He even plays the guitar! Nicholas Hoult and Charlie Hunnam (“The Gentlemen“, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”) are the two main antagonists of the movie. Both men are equally disturbing for different reasons. Sergeant O’Neil forces Ned’s mother into a sexual relationship, and Constable Fitzpatrick attempts to become involved with Ned’s younger sister.
Ned Kelly is portrayed by George MacKay, who seems to be omnipresent lately. He’s had a busy few years. I can see why, as he utterly devotes himself to the role. I have recently seen 1917, and Ned Kelly couldn’t be more different than Lance Corporal Schofield. This is to his credit, and I applaud him for giving us such a new and fresh performance.
The movie is quite violent at times, but it’s I short bursts more than a ramped up tension. It’s handled with care though. You won’t see any glorified chase scenes here, no gang members made to look like heroes. This is a movie that doesn’t shy away from showing the audience just how much the protagonist has fallen from grace. Brace yourself when watching this movie, it’s not for the faint of heart.