Ned Kelly
Dir: Gregor Jordan
Star: Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2003
Format: DVD R2

As the son of Irish immigrant Ned Kelly and his family are persecuted by the Australian Victoria State police force. This culminates with him being sent to prison for horse theft when he tries to return a runaway horse. Upon release he triesís to go straight but the police still have it in for him. Falsely accused of attempting to kill a police officer he goes on the run with his brother and two friends. Things go from bad to worse when his gang kills three policemen, and they begin to rob banks. With an army of police now looking for him Ned has planned one last fight upon which he will gamble everything.

I must admit before watching this film I only had the vaguest idea of who Ned Kelly was. Ok so I knew he was a bandit in Australia and I knew he was famous for wearing the Iron mask, but it turns out his life story was far more interesting than maybe you'd imagine. It is a tale of oppressive authority, popular uprising, and gunfights.

The film paints Ned as a true victim of authority, a good man forced onto the wrong side of an unjust authority. He is a man who robs from the rich banks and gave to the poor, a man who is forced to kill and regrets it, a folk hero in the mould of a modern day Robin Hood. Is this all true? Well to some extent yes. For once the truth is not a far from whatís on screen. Ok so the real Ned may have operated on the wrong side of the law before being forced too by the police, and maybe he wasn't quite so virtuous, but the main facts in the film are correct ( with the exception of the tacked on love story).

What makes the film work apart from the great shootouts is the stylish direction. Gregor Jordan puts together some beautiful and emotive scenes, it just a great shame that such a drab palette is used. The whole film seems to be painted in a selection of muddy browns or shot a night, and after a while this causes the film to lose some its impact. It's a shame really as apart from this the shots are well composed.

The big box office draw is without doubt the central pairing of upcoming Hollywood stars. Heath Ledger makes for a convincing Ned with a performance that goes a fair way into redeeming himself for The Sin Eater. It is a good performance but I still think there are questions regarding his ability to cope with dramatic roles. Where there is no doubt is in the ability of Orlando Bloom who grows more impressive with each film he does. Also worth a mention is the inclusion of the superb Geoffrey Rush who is almost completed wasted, as he is given only about 10 lines in the whole film.

Ned Kelly has Hollywood hunks for the women and bloody shot outs for the guys. The story may be a bit twee and suffers from the pointless romantic subplot, but the visuals are sumptuous. It's a shame about the lack of color and the almost total waste of Geoffrey Rush but these faults don't ruin the film. Strong direction and a fascinating story wins at the end of the day, making this a film thatís worth stealing a few minutes of your time for.


A film about the legendary outlaw whose story outgrew his life.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 16:9 Anamorphic Brown, Black, Grey it copes with all the colours used.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS Good enough.
Features Ned Kelly In Popular Culture featurette
The Real Ned Kelly featurette
Storyboard to film comparison
Poster Gallery
Verdict The transfer does everything its asked to, and there are a few extras. Nothing to get excited about, and a commentary or deleted scenes would have been nice.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home