JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE
Disappointed with the legal system and the police failing to protect innocent women and children from predators, John Doe (Jamie Bamber) takes the law into his own hands and sets off on a series of revenge killings, targeting pedophiles and rapists.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's an important issue that is dealt with here, in any society at any time, but especially relevant in today's complex, violent world, where awareness and information propels emotions. Serial criminals, especially pedophiles, rapists, murderers and other serious nasties, often draw more lenient sentences than society expects. Sometimes they are able to game the system of justice which infuriates citizens nearly as much as the victims' families, loved ones and friends.
It is this heated topic that Kelly Dolen's drama explores in a combination of the manipulative and the serious. The screenplay gives plenty of considered arguments to defend the titular ... What, hero? Antihero? ... Icily played by Jamie Bamber, but it contradicts his moral ground by showing him not just avenging the powerless victims but torturing them. This unbalances the whole rationale behind John Doe and turns what might have been a singularly powerful indictment of the imperfections of both Australian justice and policing.
Lachy Hulme stands out as journalist Ken Rutheford, the performer on whom the film hangs, and Brooke Ryan as Mrs Mary Doe is outstanding, delivering the film's most moving scene as she reveals her heartache at losing her daughter.
While John Doe introduces himself as an ordinary man, by the end of the film we realise he is neither ordinary in his behaviour nor in his capacity to plan the murders. Still, the point is taken; he is not a professional law enforcement officer.
Although a bit muddle headed about what tone to adopt and confused about its moral stances, John Doe provides a talking point, if nothing else, about how society should respond to the inefficiencies of a justice system and police effectiveness. The arguments for taking the law into our own hands are persuasive, but the result may well get out of control. Two wrongs.... And all that.
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JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE (MA15+)
CAST: Jamie Bamber, Daniel Lissing, Lachy Hulme, Paul O'Brien, Ben Schumann
PRODUCER: David Lightfoot, Keith Switzer, James M. Vernon, Kristy Vernon
DIRECTOR: Kelly Dolen
SCRIPT: Stephen M. Coates
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Parker
EDITOR: Jmaes Cole
MUSIC: David Hirschfelder
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carrie Kennedy, Ben Morieson
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Monster Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 16, 2014