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Romper Stomper

May 14, 2016

Romper Stomper (1992)
Director: Geoffrey Wright
Actors: Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie

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Synopsis: A group of reckless, neo-Nazi skinheads in Melbourne find themselves running out of options as their violent actions begin to catch up with them…

Review: This raw and vibrant Australian film from the early-Nineties is now mostly remembered as a key footnote in the career of Russell Crowe, and with hindsight, one can see why Crowe’s star sky-rocketed from this point on. His performance is intense and compelling, revealing a genuine, steely-eyed menace that necessarily outshines the mere thuggish posturing of the film’s lesser skinheads.

Beyond the curiosity of a pre-frame Crowe is there anything else to commend the film? Well, yes and no….Yes, because if nothing else, its visceral fervour in documenting the violent rage of the skinheads is an interesting characterisation of an overlooked factor in extremist behaviour: namely the sheer anger, levels of testosterone and disaffection, and raging identity issues that afflict many young men. One of the clear downsides to the film is that it now looks a touch dated – its action scenes are hammy and unrealistic – and in the film’s relentless will to document the demented thuggery of the skinheads, it creates very little sense of interest or empathy in their actions – they’re for the most part just a bunch of brutish ciphers bound to get their just desserts. (May 2016)

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