Mystery Road is one of the best new international television premieres of 2018, so get to the largest screen TV you can and make this crime drama miniseries your next binge-watch.
Mystery Road deserves to be watched on a proper telly — meaning one with a large hi-def or better screen — because the cinematography is spectacular. It is the first thing that grabs you, so stunning are the visuals of the opening shot.
The six-part story opens with two backpackers on an ATV buggy finding an abandoned truck somewhere within the quarter-million acres of Ballantyne Station, a cattle station in the remote outback town of Patterson.
Senior Sergeant Emma James (Oscar® nominee and Golden Globe®, Emmy®, and BAFTA Awards winner Judy Davis, My Brilliant Career, Husbands and Wives, The Starter Wife) investigates it and, because she thinks “something’s gone badly wrong here,” calls in a detective. The one who shows up is Detective Jay Swan (Australian Film Critics Association and Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards winner Aaron Pedersen, Mystery Road film, Jack Irish, A Place to Call Home).
An indigenous outsider and “a man of few words,” Jay is a somber, lone-wolf type with a volumes-speaking cold, hard stare who hits it off with Emma, a born-and-bred local and the tough, matter-of-fact head of the Patterson police office, like oil and water. Still, they have to work together if they’re going to find out what happened to Marley Thompson (Aaron L. McGrath, The Code), an Aboriginal teen who was working for Tony Ballantyne (Colin Friels, Water Rats), the owner of the cattle station, when he went missing.
What the cops discover is that Marley wasn’t alone in the truck. With him was his Caucasian Aussie mate Reese Dale (Connor Van Vuuren, Crownies) — but who was Reese, really? This is but one poser for the police as they continue investigating the mysterious disappearance of the two lads, a case further hindered by the secrets, lies, and lack of cooperation amongst the locals and visitors with connections to the missing young men.
These people aren’t the only ones making life difficult for Jay. Complicating matters for him is the surprise arrival in town of his teen-aged daughter Crystal (Madeleine Madden, Picnic at Hanging Rock). What he doesn’t realize (and what she doesn’t tell him) is the real reason why she’s come to Patterson.
Then comes a break in the case, plus the start of a murder inquiry and a race against the clock to prevent another killing from happening.
Pederson and Davis are spot-on in their portrayals of Jay and Emma — he a “coconut” living in and between two worlds as an Aborigine working for the man and married to a white woman, and she with her wry wit, akimbo arms, and badass-cop swagger trying to maintain a peaceful coexistence of the two worlds within the one town.
Also giving fine performances are members of the supporting cast, including Deborah Mailman (Jack Irish), Wayne Blair (Cleverman), Anthony Hayes (Secrets & Lies), Tasia Zalar (The Straits), Rohan Mirchandaney (House Husbands), Meyne Wyatt (Neighbours), Tasma Walton (City Homicide), and Ernie Dingo (Newton’s Law).
From start to finish, this excellent outback noir mystery-crime drama is equal to its Nordic noir and Scottish and Welsh noir counterparts in delivering a dark and riveting story told in the midst of stupendous scenery. It is not to be missed.
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