Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quigley Down Under Review

Quigley Down Under (1990)
Dir. Simon Wincer
Starring: Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman, Laura San Giacomo

Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) arrives in Australia answering a wanted ad for long range sharpshooters.  After meeting an unstable American named Cora (Laura San Giacomo) and learning that the man hiring him, Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman) wants him to use his skills to kill the aborigines. This does not sit well with Quigley, who takes up the fight for the natives.

The film stars Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley. In this film he comes across like a hero out of an older time. The first scene of the movie quickly establishes Quigley as good and decent, with him standing up for an older couple on the boat when he arrives in Australia, then with his defending Cora from the men at the docks. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the audience when he turns down Marston’s job offer to kill Aborigines. Once he gets dumped in the middle of the outback and he meets the aborigines, Quigley takes up their fight the story goes to be a full on “Thank God for White People “movie, with Quigley becoming a hero called the Spirit Warrior to the aborigines. Then at the end, as the British army shows up to arrest him for killing Marston and his men, the army is stopped by the aborigines. This scene that shows the respect that the natives now have for him. From what I’ve read this scene is edited out of the television edit of the film, which is disappointing since it’s an important scene dealing with a major thread of the movie. Laura San Giacomo is also good as Cora, the unstable displaced American that was once the victim of a Comanche attack. Prior to the story she and her son hid in a cellar while the Indians looted, and she smothered her son while trying to keep him quiet so they wouldn’t hear them. And there's the scene later in the film where she has to protect an aborigine child from dingoes she gets to redeem herself for her past mistakes. This scene is very tense, and the way that it’s shot feels like something out of a horror film. There is some great chemistry between Selleck and San Giacomo, and you get some amusing shots of the 6’4” Selleck towering over his 5’2” leading lady.

The standout performance of the movie is Alan Rickman as the villain. He’s doing what he was doing the best at the time, playing Eurotrash badguys. While he gets stuck doing a lot of standard villain tropes like monologuing  and scowling  at his henchmen. But he was some great lines, like when tells Quigley "Oh by the way, you’re fired” before their final duel or saying “Get him out of here he’s bleeding all over the rug” about a dying employee.

This movie plays like a throwback to the older westerns of the thirties and forties. It’s a fun, breezy movie with some well-constructed action scenes. Director Simon Wincer made this film after the success of Lonesome Dove, and followed this up by making Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, a film that is a strange blend of westerns and Nineties biker punk that at best can be called an interesting failure. It's a fun way to spend 2 hours, with a great lead in the role. Overall I would say that Quigley Down Under is the perfect example of a good, but not great movie.

1 comment:

  1. Here's Entertainment Weekly's review from when the movie came out, where the reviews spends a paragraph talking about aborigine's breasts.,,318523,00.html