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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Carrot and the Stick

Poker Face on IMDb

Plot Overview

mischievous boy
w/slingboy diving off boardjet pilotGambler's Royal
FlushTwo Aussie laddies, Jake & his darky buddy Drew, bicycle down a winding road, their ape-hangers accentuating their arm spread on the curves, mimicking air­plane wings. Jake is in the lead with Drew his wing­man. Their dads are both Air Force pilots. These two are not averse to risks, but they're not fools either. They explore a water hole for submerged rocks before climbing to the top of the falls to dive in. But first they have a game of five card stud up there, joined by three other kids: Mike, Alex and Paul. Paul's bullying older brother Victor shows up with his friends to take their money, but Drew clouts him good allowing the five players to jump to safety.

computer disksA few years later, 1994, this “band of pirates” has graduated to off-road vehicles and on-line poker. They'd got in on the digital ground floor and then at the suggestion of uppity Drew, converted their poker network to military surveillance and made a bundle. Jake being more committed than the rest became a down under Bill Gates billionaire along the lines of Malcolm Gladwell's ‘The Story of Success’: “opportunities … gave Bill Gates extra time to practice. By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard in his Sophomore year to try his hand at his own soft­ware company, he'd been program­ming practically non­stop for seven consecutive years. … Success[ful] outliers are those who have been given op­por­tun­ities—and have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them” (54–55, 267).

middle age manspice bottlesbeakerssenior busAt fifty-seven Jake Foley (Russell Crowe) receives bad news from his female doctor (Jacqueline McKenzie.) She gives him six months tops. He visits a medicine man (Jack Thompson) to help him prepare. Shaman Bill (Paje) gives him a vial of truth serum—only fatal in large doses—to short­cut the time needed with his four cronies to make a final accounting. They've all scattered over time and Jake wants to bring them to his weekend home on the coast for a humdinger of a high stakes game of Texas-holdem. It's high time to sort things out, a little early of necessity, as P.F. Kluge has written of: a man's

forties, the age when you have to get things right. You make a change, you take chances, when you're in your twenties it doesn't matter what happens. You've got time. Misadventures are par for the course; you laugh about them later. And if you gamble when you're old, like some vigorous golden agers going into the Peace Corps or Teach for America, it doesn't matter much either. The returns are in, the performance is over, except for the closing notes. But at my age the stakes are huge. Make or break. (22)

Alex Harris (Aden Young) is doing okay as an author but he has a secret. Michael (Liam Hemsworth) would do better if he stayed in rehab rather than planning on taking the coward's way out. Paul (Steve Bastoni) now a politician is being black­mailed. Andrew “Drew” (RZA) shows up late in blue jeans & sneakers—the others are in business attire except Mikey's dressed business casual. Australia's a big country. We figure Drew for working in the outback, which is why it took him longer to get there.

PF is billed as an Action/Crime/Thriller but this prologue is nothing but sorry drama. It does go by fast, however, in a hop, skip and a jump, due to judicious editing, then comes the good stuff. Jake's nemesis Victor (Paul Tassone) is an out­law (“I'm connected.”) When he learns of Jake's beach house holding lots of expensive Australian art, he puts together a crew of hench­man Billy (Matt Nable) and a Polish art expert Styx (Benedict Hardie.) He locks and loads (“Don't forget the gear,”) and they make the ninety minute drive from the city. His inside man calls him on the way to inform him the house is occupied tonight. In America the criminals would come back another day. In Australia with its gun ban and confiscation, the criminals are bolder (“It's on tonight”) and for Victor “it's personal.” For the movie it's a crime.

When the card players spot them coming on the surveillance system, they dash into the panic room, bringing with them Mikey's revolver loaded with a single bullet for his shameful task. Drew pipes up, “Break out the guns and let's stop those [mfers]!” Jake tells them, “I don't have any guns.” Then it's suggested that including Sam the lawyer (Daniel MacPherson) it's six to three; they can take them. The reality check is it's one bullet against three shotguns. Better not try. Victor taunts them through the closed circuit camera. Now we've got a thriller.

Last to arrive are Jake's wife Nicole (Brooke Satchwell) on the verge of divorce and his only daughter Rebecca (Molly Grace) on the verge of woman­hood. They put up one heluva a fight employing their expensive hand-to-hand combat training, but to spare the young viewer excessive violence, the editor cuts to them bound back-to-back in chairs. That was the action.


card playershand crank ice cream makerWe need bigger conflict to keep the picture screen interesting, and we get it along biblical lines. (Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” A constant aggravation over time can change a state of peace to one of war like milk churned into butter, as can also an irritation to a critical area like a bloodied nose on the face. In this movie we see staff member Chris (Addam Bramich) with a bloody nose from being forced to give up the gate code. And the women hostages forced the issue when nothing else could. Jake “gun in hand like a common criminal”—no gun rights in Australia—confronts their three shot­guns in a Mexican standoff.

Paul had regaled his buddies with the story of a bathroom break in a restaurant seeming a drugged experience when the scene outside the window changed every time he looked back through it. It took him an hour to realize he was in a rotating restaurant. That was his start in politics where he frequently changed his position without batting an eyelid. The crooks after going round and round in a disap­pointing room by room search were split up when two of them went off to check out the Cézanne in the kitchen Jake told them about, allowing his four buddies to go after them while the lawyer turned out the lights. The fight sounded awesome though the audience was left in the dark.

Production Values

right hand” (2022) was derived from a Stephen M. Coates story. It was written and directed by Russell Crowe who also and starred in it. The role fit him like a glove. The female actresses were awesome but the males were like Elvis Presley who might want to think of trying another line of work. The cast had intelligible accents, and two of them, the baddie and the black, had facial hair. The dealer Penelope (Elsa Pataky) had swirling, curlicue tattoos on her back and shoulders. There was a moment of avuncular tenderness between a black man and a white woman.

Certification for Australia was MA15+. It had beautiful art, cars, scenery, and architecture while maintaining a niche plot. Hollywood it is not. It was filmed in Kiama, New South Wales, Australia. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This movie would be best appreciated from the mental framework of one facing life's end. Language, violence and innuendo were deadened to be suitable for teenagers down to fifteen with minimal guidance. However, at that age they'll expect to live forever. In their twenties they'll take risks figuring if their cup is empty, they can always pour another. In their thirties, forties and fifties, life gets more serious but Jake's poker advice to stay in the game as long as possible might seem misplaced to anyone with a gambling addiction. Then there's the golden years. Dolly Parton has agreed to pose topless for the center­fold of Hustler magazine once she's turned 100, but I think I might like younger, more modest pictures of her better. There are lots of movies I've recommended to be not for everyone. Sadly, this one might not be for anyone. I rather liked it, but what do I know?

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitable for teenagers down to 15 with minimal guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: For something different. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted is from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2008. Print.

Kluge, P.F. The Master Blaster. Copyright © 2012 by The Over­look Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc.. New York: Overlook Press, 2012. Print.