The cheap 'message' of the ending fails to salvage a film that at best is well-meant but misguided, at worst, flashy and garbled.
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It's merely another violent art house picture, slumming modishly in the world of psycho-personalities, and exhibiting only occasional flashes of originality.
It is violent, certainly, but it's also a genuinely excellent film, horrifying and touching and beautiful in a bloody sort of way. A bit like real life, really.
As an expose of the new wave of racist youth-gang violence, Romper Stomper lacks depth, psychology, a sense of social background. Yet Wright’s flagrant attempt to humanize his skinheads-to turn them into bona fide movie characters-is, in its way, dramatic and vaguely honorable.
A great movie could be pulled from this horror but writer-director Geoffrey Wright gets taken in by all the mayhem and clobbering.
Ron Hagen’s camera work captures the delirium of carnage that drives out rational thought. Ignore the prudes who think you shouldn’t make films about things that scare you. It’s a first line of defense. This Aussie Reservoir Dogs opens up a brutal world that needs to be understood.
Director Geoffrey Wright, who also wrote the script, is thoroughly ambivalent in his storytelling. It's in his deft filmmaking that Wright slips: By whipping up a visceral ride through a tunnel of hate, and by making several characters likable, he creates a parable of race and rage that offers no moral position.
While enticing you to hate the gang and take delight in everything bad that happens to its members, the film also gives you the vicarious thrill of being one of the gang.