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Evil is relative in this chilling tale of betrayal and blood starring Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Joel Edgerton. When his mother dies from a overdose, 17-year-old Josh Cody (James Frecheville) is taken in by his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and uncles, the most notorious criminal gang in the city. So when tensions between the Codys and a squad of renegade cops land him at the center of a cold-blooded murder plot, Josh is forced to choose between his treacherous family and the lawless police in this shattering thriller.
The title leaves no doubt about the nature contained in this Australian crime picture: the law of the jungle prevails, and it's kill or be killed out there. That's the belief within the Cody clan, anyway, the Melbourne criminal family whose exploits give Animal Kingdom its fire. The central character is something of a deliberate vacancy, a blank slate for the movie to write on: 17-year-old Joshua, known as J (James Frechville), is taken in by his grandmother after his mother dies of an overdose (a memorably chilling opening scene). Grandma (Jacki Weaver) is known as Smurf, but don't let the name fool you: she's the Ma Barker-like matriarch of a brood of sociopaths, none more lethal than oldest son Andrew, known as the Pope (a blood-curdling performance by Ben Mendelsohn). Luke Ford and Sullivan Stapleton play her other sons, and Joel Edgerton (The Square) is on hand as an outlaw associate. The way J is brought in and tested in this world of blood-spattered machismo is director David Michod's subject, and even if the film has a few heavy-handed moments along the way, the overall effect is tense and unsettling. J's journey comes up short compared to a contemporaneous study of another unformed youth learning the ropes of crime (Jacques Audiard's A Prophet), but its portrait of amorality thriving in a somewhat ordinary-looking urban landscape is effective. Bonus: Guy Pearce's role as a detective who tries to catch J on the course of his tragic trajectory, a rare glimpse of humanity in an otherwise chaotic zoo. --Robert Horton
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This is more cops hunting them down,and the family coming off the rail, prepare to be shocked if you've already seen the TV series 1st season.
The characters have the same names, the concept is fairly the same, Australia vs. Oceanside,CA. The story doesn't jibe with the movie, it's separate other than the fact that it's a crime family, J is inherited by Aunt Smurf, his mom died. This movie is more about the cops trying to peg them down.
If you are a fan of the series you have to see it right ?
The characters of this dysfunctional crime family were riveting, complex, complicated, layered, yet realistic. I really cared about this family of misfits and their attempt to navigate their world which is being turned upside down. It is one of those rare movies that I wish would be continued so that I can continue to follow the development of these characters. It has genuine surprises, including seemingly inexplicable violence which on second thought becomes so logical and sensible.
It is amazing that Animal Kingdom is the first full-length movie directed by David Michôd. David Michôd also wrote this tremendous original screenplay. Hopefully we will be graced by this amazingly talented man.
I originally bought Animal Kingdom because Guy Pearce is in it. Guy is so talented with such a wide range. I waited to watch it because I am not a fan of crime movies. What a fool I was. I had to wait until the credits to figure out which character Guy had played. I did not recognize him.
Another phenomenal actor, who is apparently considered a "national treasure" in Australia, and deservedly so, is Jacki Weaver who plays Janine 'Smurf' Cody, the matriarch, the grandmother of Joshua who is called "J" (played by first-timer actor James Frecheville), and the mother of three sons of varying ferocity, Andrew called "Pope", Craig, and Darren. Jacki Weaver is indeed an amazing actress who gives a tremendous performance. Jacki's "Smurf" is comforting, disarming, perhaps too close and familiar with her sons, and yet dangerous.
And yet another phenomenal performance is given by Ben Mendelsohn who plays Andrew called "Pope" Cody. I could almost empathize with this psychopath. Truly terrifying and disturbing.
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