...what with their Locked Up Abroad series and the things about world's toughest gangs, what have you, a movie like 2010's Animal Kingdom will fit right in in no time! And I don't want to be too negative, mostly because the film was recommended to me, and partly because the film does a fine job of weaving a spell, creating a mood, what have you. And while everyone's currently gushing and raving over The Spectacular Now about its absolutely accurate portrayal of teens, I dare say that Animal Kingdom does pretty good in its own right in that regard.
That being said, here's yet another film about crime that owes a little bit to GoodFellas... li'l bit, especially the part about never ratting on your friends, and always keeping your mouth shut. Not to give away too much of the plot, but the plot does hinge on a car that Joshua, played well by James Frecheville, steals and deliberately leaves for the police to find. He's not too bright of a kid, but apparently he's smart enough to know to wear gloves, and to wipe down any surfaces that might contain fingerprints. Also, he provides some narration at the beginning of the film. To give you some insight to this character, he keeps getting distracted by the TV as medics prepare to take his dead mother away. Alienated youth, I guess you could call it. The TV grieves in its own unique way where the kid shows none.
Things go from bad to worse when the kid moves in with his criminal relatives. Things further go from worse to worse in overdrive when the level-headed matriarch of the criminal relatives gets killed by the police, and 'Pope' returns to the fold, and begins to put his own spin on where things should be headed. Pope is played by Ben Mendelsohn, and I guess you could say that the role's subtly effective the way Edward Norton was in Rounders.
So, to sum up, the film's probably too stylized in the way most similar films are these days. Take the music, for example; kinda reminded me of Watchmen a little bit. But I will give props to the cinematography, and the way the film is framed. I'm a sucker for lots of telephoto. Somebody's got to fill the wide gap that Tony Scott has left, after all! I'll say three and a half stars.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan