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Two Hands

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // December 6, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted December 15, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

An enjoyably grungy and entirely engaging little crime thriller you've probably never heard of, Gregor Jordan's Two Hands qualifies as a bona-fide pleasant surprise. The DVD case informed me that the 1999 Australian flick stars Heath Ledger and Bryan Brown, and also that it was directed by the guy who'd go on to helm Buffalo Soldiers (which is damn good) and Ned Kelly, which is NOT as bad as you've heard.

So I sat down expecting some sort of mega-flashy, yet patently Oz-centric, take on Trainspotting, and was quite pleasantly surprised by Jordan's tight-fisted and efficient style of storytelling. Two Hands might not be the most unique crime story ever told, but it's more than engaging enough to warrant a 3-dollar rental and a 90-minute sit-down.

Heath Ledger plays a go-nowhere kid named Jimmy who (unwisely) accepts a simple courier gig from a local thug-boss called Pando. Jimmy is asked to deliver $10,000 to one of Pando's contacts and receive 500 bucks for his efforts.

To say that things go monumentally wrong would, of course, be a massive understatement. Upon discovering this his contact is unavailable, Jimmy heads down to the beach to kill an hour or two, but he (very stupidly) decides to go for a dip in the surf. When he returns, Jimmy finds that his 10 grand has been stolen by a pair of rotten kids.

Thus begins a circuitous and smoothly slick series of misadventures in which Jimmy is required to replace Pando's 10k ... by any means necessary. Along the way he'll have to contend with lowlife bank robbers, pissed-off henchmen, numerous greedy oddballs, and a lovely little blondie who just might represent our hero's salvation.

Clocking in at a trim 89 minutes, Two Hands doesn't waste much time getting to the meat of the matter. Jordan employs an entertaining little gimmick that sees several of the peripheral characters crossing each other's paths ... and not even knowing it. Misfortune piles on top of bizarre coincidence, and the result, more often that not, is not good news. Plus there are a handful of true "I didn't see THAT coming!" moments, which only serve to help you pay close attention to the onscreen action.

Darkly funny, surprisingly compelling, and packed with one or two nifty surprises, Two Hands succeeds not because of its "crazy criminals" conceit, but because of Jordan's slick and efficient filmmaking, two excellent performances by Ledger and Brown, and that always-welcome air of offbeat Aussie attitude.

The DVD

Video: It's a fairly scuffed-up widescreen (1.85:1) transfer, which either adds to the grittiness of the flick or speaks to a lack of effort on the part of Miramax DVD. Either way, the movie looks more than clean enough to enjoy, but it's not exactly "reference quality" we're talking about here.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. (I highly recommend using the English subs, because there's a lot of Aussie slang and enjoyably authentic accents.)

Extras: Just a trailer for Mr. Ledger's The Brothers Grimm.

Final Thoughts

I sit through so many awful crime stories that when a tight little tale like Two Hands shows up, I consider it a welcome guest indeed. Call it a bargain-bin baby or a cable-flick time-filler if you like, but the movie's a pretty fun time, provided you have a taste for Aussie cinema and you don't mind a few tasty leftovers.

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