Compelling Drama Elevates Rote Action
A former sniper (Sam Worthington) and his troubled son (Edward Carmody) make poor decisions after a horrific tragedy.
A former special forces soldier and his troubled son make poor decisions in the wake of a horrific tragedy. Transfusion blends a deep character drama with murder and theft in the criminal underworld. The film is uneven in this regard but manages to stay afloat with sound performances of emotional, angry, and desperate characters who are struggling to continue with their lives. The violent action elements seem overblown and unrealistic in contrast; less gunplay would have better accompanied the primary storyline and these emotive characters.
Ryan Logan (Sam Worthington) hunts with his young son Billy (Gilbert Bradman) in the woods. Ryan has returned to Australia from duty as a sniper in the Iraq War. The shy Billy is nervous around his father and guns. He can’t take the shot to kill a deer. Ryan accepts his son’s decision – he’s keenly aware how taking life can change a man.
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They return home to the pregnant Justine (Phoebe Tonkin). Ryan’s filled with hope for a bright future with his growing family. He builds a crib for his expected daughter. Justine takes Billy to school the next morning. Ryan receives an urgent call. He races to the hospital with his commanding officer Johnny (Matt Nable).
An Easy Score
Eight years later, Ryan bounces between jobs. Billy (Edward Carmody) is a wayward teenager in constant trouble. His latest arrest results in a judge’s stern warning. Billy’s next stop is jail if these offenses continue. Ryan hasn’t paid the tuition at Billy’s prep school. Billy has no friends, and yearns to be a part of the cool rich kids clique. A lot has also changed for Johnny. He needs Ryan’s lethal skills for an easy score with big money. Billy’s surprised when he’s invited to a party. Ryan has always had faith in Johnny’s leadership.
Nable (Arrow, Mr. Inbetween), a veteran Australian character actor, writes and directs his first feature film. We see the heartbreaking change from a picture of happiness to the shattered aftermath. Ryan and Billy share the same home but are miles apart. Worthington grabs you as a man on the edge of uncertainty. He has no idea what to do with his son. Ryan loves Billy but has become remote. Billy acts impetuously because he can’t process his feelings. Loss and grief have created a chasm both are afraid to bridge.
Related: Exclusive: Transfusion Writer-Director-Star Matt Nable on New Crime Drama
Transfusion has Johnny robbing his drug dealer associates. Ryan takes orders and follows through. He doesn’t ask questions because he doesn’t want answers. That makes sense to a certain point. The bad guys aren’t criminal masterminds; they’re basically foolish lambs to the slaughter. It’s a simplistic set-up. The subplot that Nable uses to lure his protagonist into criminality stretches credulity, though. Ryan’s killer turn goes too far.
Transfusion moves at a deliberate pace. Scenes of waves crashing on a beach continually intercuts the narrative. Nable has a poetic intent, but it just adds to the runtime as unnecessary filler. The core relationship between a distraught father and lost son works. You feel the lingering pain of wounds that have never healed. It saves the film with compelling drama when other aspects are forced.
Transfusion is a production of Altitude Media Group, Deeper Water, and Madmen Entertainment. It will have a concurrent theatrical, digital, and VOD release on March 3rd from Saban Films.