Less than a year ago, Acorn collected the first two "Jack Irish" telemovies into a Blu-Ray set. The films, based on the books by author Peter Temple, followed Irish (Guy Pearce) as he slowly shifts from being a fancy criminal attorney to being a private investigator, while recovering from the murder of his wife, Isabel. His other hobbies include hitting the local pub, romancing famous reporter and radio newscaster Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), woodwork, and attending to his second job with bookie Harry Strang (Roy Billing), who makes his money at the horse races with the help of bodyguard Cam (Aaron Pedersen). Now, Acorn has brought the third "Jack Irish" adventure to Blu-Ray as well...but just the third, as plans to film the fourth book haven't quite gotten to the shooting stage yet.
Jack's working a case for an anonymous employer, trying to track down a local snitch, Robbie Colburne (Dominic Allburn). His investigation takes a turn for the worse when Robbie turns up dead of an overdose after blowing out of a shipyard with a stolen car. With his target dead, Jack looks to close the case, but changes his mind when his client reveals himself to be Justice Loder (Barry Humphries) -- Isobel's father. The Justice reveals that Robbie had in his possession a binder full of intimate photos...ones which relate more to his sexual orientation than his sexual insatiability. As Jack digs deeper into the case, he discovers a web of blackmail that also involves anti-drug politician Susan Ayliss (Kate Beahan); the shipyard's owner, Mike Cundall (Vince Colosimo); and Ros (Kat Stewart), the owner of a high-class nightclub called Snug where the rich and powerful go to have the kind of fun they don't expect anyone else to find out about.
The first two "Jack Irish" telemovies were nicely relaxed, offering a nice blend of classiness that private eyes are usually removed from, while also retaining a loose, shaggy-dog kind of charm. Dead Point, sadly, feels much more convoluted, with scriptwriter Matt Cameron jamming the threads of the episode together haphazardly. Some confusion can naturally be chalked up to the fact that eight months have passed since the last chapter, but this episode also feels simultaneously overstuffed and under-developed. A few explanatory details, such as Irish's existing investigation into Colburne and what's been going on between Irish and Linda are clumsy and needlessly confusing at the start of the episode. A side-story about one of Harry Strang's associates, Cynthia (Deborah Mailman) getting violently assaulted and their winnings stolen is oddly placed, stretching a fairly simple B-story out through half the film, to the detriment of other threads. Key supporting characters such as Sienna (Tess Haubrich), Robbie's ex, end up feeling more present and developed than leads like Ros.
A glance back at my review of the first "Jack Irish" set also mentions the sincere sense that Jack's life was in danger, something that is sorely missing from this go-round. None of the villains in this episode make enough of an impact to seem legitimately threatening, and places that should feel dangerous, like the Snug Club, are bland and unmemorable. One moment briefly appears to at least be a monkey wrench in Irish's investigation, rather than his life, but even that is brushed aside with the help of a couple of well-placed friends. Dramatically, Jack's story revolves around his former sister-in-law's new baby girl, which the family is naming Isobel, but Pearce feels totally disinterested in grieving, and the supposed tension between himself and Linda about him opening up to her doesn't register (although Pearce and Dusseldorp still have excellent sexual chemistry). All things considered, Jack Irish isn't a particularly interesting or compelling character in this chapter, which is a pretty big problem considering the show's named after him.
To top everything off, Dead Point ends with a ridiculous finale that goes far beyond what I remember of the first two pictures. They say "bigger is better" when it comes to sequels, but the climax feels as if it were ripped from a different and less interesting show. It's capped with an epilogue that wraps everything up with such a neat and tidy bow it borders on parody. On one hand, it feels like a bit of a rip-off to put only one episode in Set 2 of the "Jack Irish" Blu-Rays, but if the producer's dream of shooting two more come to fruition (not just the next book, but one that Temple is still writing), perhaps it will make it convenient to leave this outing out of people's home video libraries.
Much like the first release, "Jack Irish": Set 2 is graced with nothing more than Guy Pearce's face on the front cover, which seems to be the norm for Acorn's releases. It doesn't seem like it'd be that hard to come up with something a little more evocative, but I suppose it doesn't matter. The single-disc Blu-Ray is accompanied by a DVD copy, both of which are housed inside a standard Viva Elite Blu-Ray case, along with a leaflet advertising Acorn TV. The entire package slides inside a glossy slipcover with identical artwork.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.78:1 1080p AVC and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, "Jack Irish" meets the new middle-of-the-road, no-frills-but-also-no-complaints standard for home video in the high-def era. To be frank, aside from the inside of the Snug Club (which takes up maybe three to five minutes of the 87-minute feature presentation), most of the lighting in "Jack Irish" isn't particularly evocative, and so there's not much nuance to be wrung out of the exceptionally crisp but slightly muted transfer. The overcast skies of London dim much of the outdoor stuff (no blue skies here), and Jack himself wears a selection of grays and browns. A single instance of banding popped up, but no others that I noticed. When there's action, the sound offers an adequate amount of stereo, although it lacks the oomph and vigor of a theatrical or 5.1 mix. Dialogue is perfectly audible and music sounds fine. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are also included.
A very brief serving of making-of footage is mysteriously and needlessly broken up into three location headings ("The Docks" - 2:24, "Traffic Jam" - 2:14, and "Air Strip Finale" - 2:49, all in HD) provide a cursory overview of the production with on-set interviews with director Jeffrey Walker. A photo gallery finishes the set off.
An extensive trailer for Acorn's entire catalog, as well as promos for "Line of Duty" and "The Fall" play before the main menu.
The first two "Jack Irish" TV movies were low-key fun with some excellent thrills that felt like a good fit for Guy Pearce. This third episode is a misfire, stranding Pearce without anything substantial to work with, bungling the show's tension, and capping it all off with an awful finish. Beyond that, this Blu-Ray only offers half the value of the first, serving up a single episode (not even 90 minutes) for the same price as two. Skip it.
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