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Ned Kelly (2003)

You can kill a man, but not a legend.

Directed by:

Gregor Jordan

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 109 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Australia, France, United Kingdom

Of all world history’s famous out-laws, Aussie horse-nabber Ned Kelly must surely have been the most appropriately-named. “We’re all innocent men,” he proclaims at one point to the customers of the bank he and his mob are in the process of robbing. Aye right, Ned – tell it to your social worker.

King of the understated facial expression Heath Ledger takes on the role of the Irish-accented Aussie, born Down Under as a result of his pappy being shipped there for nicking a sheep. Like father like son, it would seem, as before too long our Ned is on the run from the police, stealing from the rich to give to the poor and stopping only to launch yet another round of witless obscenities at the police.

Clearly, in the eyes of director Gregor Jordan and the rest of his cronies involved in the production, Kelly was a man who could do no wrong. We see him shoot a copper in the back as the poor fellah tries to make an understandable getaway, but it’s okay as our “hero” blubs and says he’s sorry. Not “sorry” enough to prevent him from robbing the guy’s body though, you understand. It’s just one of many instances where Ned is seen acting the bastard, only to have his actions forgiven by either some dimwit narration or feebly-contrived excuse.

Kelly and his gang (among them the dismal Orlando “always the bridesmaid” Bloom) are also portrayed as surprisingly well-educated for the bunch of dirt-dwelling minks they effectively are, displaying a facility for speaking in fluent Chinese and even managing to grasp the rudimentary concepts behind Acts of Parliament. Well hey, maybe they’re not that bad after all, then.

It’s tough to find fault with the general production values on display here, particularly as the late 19th Century period the whole thing takes place in seems to have been so painstakingly recreated. Unfortunately, a big name cast intent on simply going through the motions, along with a screenplay bereft of either humour or spark, swiftly turn this into an unmoving and monotonous viewing experience.

It's Got: A fantastic array of beards, and some dodgy accents.

It Needs: Some Bic razors.

DVD Extras ‘Ned Kelly in Popular Culture’ featurette, a look at the real Kelly gang (an ugly mob if ever there was one), artist-to-feature comparisons, poster campaign, and some trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Braveheart, Ned Kelly (1970 version with Mick Jagger in the title role!! "Well alright"!!), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Summary

Think 'Braveheart' without the epic ambition or ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ without the entertainment value.

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