Title – Loveland (2022)
Director – Ivan Sen (Mystery Road)
Cast – Ryan Kwanten, Jillian Nguyen, Hugo Weaving
Plot – In a future Hong Kong, assassin for hire Jack (Kwanten) begins to find himself drawn to nightclub singer April (Nguyen) but as his body begins to fail him he must seek the services of mysterious scientist Dr. Bergman (Weaving) to help him uncover the secrets of his past and the way forward for his future.
‘Three Strangers. One City. No way out”
Review by Eddie on 04/07/2022
As a fan of both Ivan Sen the filmmaker and quality Australian cinema in general, it deeply pains me to admit that Sen’s latest and arguably most ambitious outing yet is a dead on arrival failure that deserves the tepid response it has received across the globe, locally as Loveland and in other markets Expired.
His first feature film since 2016’s Mystery Road sequel Goldstone, Sen heads into Blade Runner-lite territory with his Hong Kong and Queensland shot sci-fi, an effort that has him re-teaming with his Mystery Road actor Ryan Kwanten but an effort that at days end fails to justify why we should care as a slow and uninvolving narrative that has more mumbling voice overs and random scenes than it does coherent or engaging elements takes hold.
Getting stuck straight into the thick of things as we are introduced to Kwanten’s charisma free assassin Jack, who roams the neon clad streets of an unspecified futuristic Hong Kong only to find his isolated life turned upside down when he comes across Jillian Nguyen’s nightclub singer April, Loveland takes forever to get going and even when it does it’s barely moving out of first gear as we spend a majority of the films runtime unable to grasp where Sen is taking us or if it in fact will be worth all the mediocrity we have to wade through to get there.
A multi-talented filmmaker who often not only writes and directs his own films but edits and scores them too for good measure, Sen has proven multiple times that his one of the most fascinating Australian voices in the local industry with efforts such as Beneath Clouds, the criminally underrated Toomelah and the one two double hit of Mystery Road and Goldstone showcasing someone that is above average in their chosen field, which makes Loveland’s complete failure to connect or stick its landing even more baffling, especially when it perhaps provided Sen a chance to broaden his locally made products too a much wider market.
With so much of the film failing to work in an aesthetic or narrative sense, the last hope Loveland had of pulling off a miracle recovery from its failings was in its cast members work but due to Kwanten’s boorish lead turn (a continuing of his struggles since his True Blood breakthrough), Nguyen’s thankless role and the support of beloved Australian acting icon Hugh Weaving in a generically structured role as a mysterious life extension scientist, Sen’s cast can’t save a film that was perhaps never going to succeed no matter what anyone did due to its core failings as a story that no amount of polish or luck was going to produce into anything worth a note.
Final Say –
A hugely disappointing outing from everyone involved, particularly Ivan Sen, Loveland marks an unfortunate career low point for one of Australia’s brightest all-round directional talents who needs to bounce back in a big way following this colossal misfire.
1 1/2 butterfly tattoos out of 5