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Dirty Deeds review

Aussie director David Caesar garnered a fair amount of indie cred up here with his previous efforts - small-budget heister Idiot Box and quirky comi-drama Mullet. Now he's been let loose with a bigger budget and a bigger-name cast, roping in John Goodman, Sam Neill and Toni Collette to join Oz mainstay Bryan Brown in a '60s gangster caper.

Brown's well-placed as Barry Ryan, a Kray-esque illegal-gambling entrepreneur,but Goodman's miscast as the desperate-to-retire Chicago Mafioso sent to Sydney to strongarm Ryan into giving up a cut of the action. Wisecracks and gun blasts vie for attention in a storyline that's a gauche flip-flop between knockabout comedy and extreme violence, as Ryan's small-time crook tries to outmanoeuvre the big-time Yankee Mobsters, aided enormously by his home advantage.

Collette has a vicious appeal as Ryan's psycho wife and Neill fills out his bit part as a corrupt copper, so why on earth does Caesar give bland lead Sam Worthington so much screen time as Ryan's 'Nam vet nephew? Especially as all his character arc involves is boning his uncle's sneery moll and learning how to cook "pizza pie". That, and a botched, drawn-out ending, which can't even call it a day when the credits start to roll, make Dirty Deeds Caesar's most uneven effort yet. He'd better watch out - another movie like this, and that small reservoir of credibility will soon have completely dribbled away.

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