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Set 1 (2012)

Director: Jeffrey Walker

Writer(s): Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron
(Based on the award-winning books by Peter Temple)

Cast: Guy Pearce, Marta Dusseldorp, Aaron Pedersen, Roy Billing…

MPAA Rating: NR – Contains strong language, violence, graphic images, nudity, and sexual situations.

1 Disc, 2 feature-length episodes
Run time: approx. 202 minutes

Price: $39.99

Genre(s): Australian noir, crime drama, private investigator, suspense/thriller


Reviewed by Cherie Jung

(July, 2014)

Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) is a former criminal lawyer, now debt collector, drunk, gambler, and part-time private investigator. Determined though he is to drown his demons after his wife's murder, he finds he can’t out drink his past. He is drawn back to an underworld of corruption and violence. Set in Melbourne, Australia, the city is portrayed as modern and rather ugly. The mean streets where Irish walks are bordered by graffiti covered dilapidated buildings. The graffiti has no artistic appeal whatsoever.

I have not read any of the books this series is based upon but if this is Australian noir, I can’t say I’m all that impressed. First off, I was continually distracted by character’s perpetual disheveled look. I frequently lost track of the crime or mystery because I became absorbed in wondering how Irish can always have a three-day stubble. Not one day or four days. Every day looks like the perfect three-day stubble. I also found myself contemplating how a man with three-day stubble can manage to have the hairstyle he has. Not merely a haircut, or lack of a haircut, but a hairstyle that I doubt he could get in any barbershop that a drunken, down-on-his-luck, ex-criminal lawyer would most likely frequent.

 Season 1 is comprised of two feature length “episodes.”

 “Bad Debts” – A shady land deal is being orchestrated by corrupt politicians backed by corrupt cops. Jack is determined to make the bad guys pay for setting up a possibly or probably innocent man. Jack’s not sure. He was not “on his game” when he handled the guy’s case years ago. (It was during his early drunken period.)

 “Black Tide” – Jack pitches in to locate the missing son of an old friend of his father’s. The son has apparently stolen $60,000 from the old guy and the bank is planning to evict him any day now. Things become complicated as Jack snoops around. More than just one person and the money are missing.

 Although “Black Tide” had a vastly more interesting plotline, better pacing, and more action, it still could have been improved by cutting 20 minutes, or so, from the film. “Bad Debts” might have been helped by a 60-minute total length. It certainly couldn’t have moved along much slower or viewers might have been inspired to switch it off and watch some paint drying on the wall instead. The audience is not stupid. We get it. Jack has issues. Jack has problems. Jack has a past. One might be able to get away with this pacing in a novel but not in a TV series. Please!

 So far, Jack Irish brings nothing fresh or innovative to the genre.

The Fitzroy Youth Club (three old geezers who hang out at Jack’s favorite bar reliving past glory days while watching old soccer games on VHS tapes) are cute and funny but they’re fluff. The only character I really liked was Cam Delroy (Aaron Pedersen) who plays Harry Strang’s (Roy Billing) right-hand man and go-to guy. Jack is connected to them via the betting at the racetrack.

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