Very earlier in Last Ride it becomes clear that Kev (Hugo Weaving) and his son Chook (new comer Tom Russell) are on the run. This new Australian film explores the difficult father/son relationship between a young boy and his unpredictably violent father as they travel cross-country to avoid the law catching up with them. Unfortunately this mildly gritty film doesn’t work as either a drama or a thriller. It lacks dramatic tension as soon as it becomes obvious that the main structure of the film consists of contrasting scenes of Kev being a good father with scenes of Kev being a bit of a bastard. Also, revelations later in the film about the nature of what happened to make Kev and Chook go on the run dilute any tension.
Hugo Weaving does a decent job with the laborious dialogue he is lumped with but Tom Russell is excellent as a young boy who despite loving his dad, has to painfully come to grips with the fact that Kev is a hugely flawed person. Anita Hegh as Kev’s ex-girlfriend and Kelton Pell as a friendly park ranger are both excellent and it is a pity they weren’t given more screen time. The same can be said tenfold for John Brumpton, one of Australia’s most underrated actors, who shines in his relatively small role as Max.
Last Ride is also too self consciously an ‘art house’ film with a soundtrack filled with obligatory discordant steel guitar music and the type of contrived Australian working-class/low life character dialogue that sounds presumed rather than actually reflecting the way such people really speak. The cinematography is beautiful but too many scenes seem to simply exist as Great Moments to get the approval of the audience rather than being there to serve the film as a whole. Last Ride is a decent film but it feels too much like a dozen other films made specifically for Australian art house cinemas.