After his wife miscarried during their last pregnancy, Constable Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) has heeded the advice of the doctors and transferred from the city to a small rural town so his wife can enjoy a less stressful pregnancy this time around. Not that Shane is getting much peace as his superior, Old Bill (Steve Bisley), is a crotchety old git who doesn't suffer fools and doesn't fully believe Shane when he explains why he has transferred there. But there is little time for pleasantries as Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis), a killer that Old Bill put away, has broken out of prison and the whole town are ready for his return.
"Red Hill" starts in a relatively light manner as Shane arrives at the police station for his first day; a horse is in the parking lot giving a nod to the western elements of this Australian movie whilst a cop sleeps at the desk. And there are other various moments of comedy as we have Old Bill reading the town the riot act when it comes to progress and like in a typical western Bill heads to the barbers for a trim; you imagine this is a weekly routine. And it is entertaining in a light fashion as we have the city boy in a back water town but with it not overly played upon.
And then we have the return of Jimmy Conway with his face half scarred from a burn and still a touch of black comedy in the matter of fact way that he goes about killing those he seeks revenges on. But after a lightly quirky opening "Red Hill" becomes about two things; Shane getting his man and the violence of the killing spree. It is undeniably entertaining but it becomes a case of mostly cliches and action, certainly delivered with a flourish of style but leaving you a tad disappointed that it couldn't have found something more to do after the entertaining set up.
Despite that the acting is good with Ryan Kwanten being a bit pleasant but also naive whilst Steve Bisley brings plenty of snarl to the role of Old Bill, a name which I wonder was intentional or just a happy coincidence. But for me it is Tommy Lewis who makes the movie as he cuts an imposing yet curiously comical figure as Jimmy Conway, wearing a long western weather beater like an old cowboy.
What this all boils down to is that "Red Hill" is certainly entertaining with modern Australian western which has a touch of black comedy about it. But at the same time after an entertaining opening it then ends up feeling like it has turned to cliches to inspire the rest of the movie.