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  • Alex First

Lowdown Dirty Criminals (MA) - 87 minutes

Updated: Aug 18

Larrikin humour permeates a surprisingly enjoyable New Zealand knucklehead dark comedy.

Lowdown Dirty Criminals takes on and upends the crime genre.

Freddy (James Rolleston – The Breaker Upperers) and Marvin (Samuel Austin) are mates, trying in vain to get ahead the conventional way.

Although featuring both characters, the story is primarily based around the former, a pizza delivery driver.

His entry into the criminal world is hardly an auspicious one.

On a typical pizza run, Freddy is stiffed by the guy who opens the door, who indicates – untruthfully – that Freddy missed the 20-minute delivery guarantee, so the pizza has to be free.

After Freddy, rightfully, argues the toss, the openly gay “customer” tries to exploit the situation a second time – declaring to his life partner that Freddy is eyeing him off.

Next thing you know, the gay guy’s lover is beating the veritable out of Freddy’s car.

After that episode, sick of not being able to get ahead, Freddy takes up Marvin’s offer to work for a low-level crime boss, Spiggs (Scott Wills), so he and Marvin can get “high on the hog”.

But things quickly go pear-shaped when Freddy decides to use his initiative.

Let’s just say the consequences of that are disastrous ... and things quickly descend from there.

While Lowdown Dirty Criminals plays on the absurd and the outrageous, it does so with a deft touch.

The script by David Brechin-Smith is genuinely funny, although it is let down by a disappointing ending.

The direction by Paul Murphy carefully measured.

At times the movie is violent, even gory, although this remains in keeping with the narrative arc.

The actors – Rolleston, in particular – do a decent job in delivering the goods.

Rolleston has a good natured, naive honesty about his representation of Freddy.

He is immediately likeable.

Around him, the secondary leads and bit players too are well drawn, each with their own peccadilloes.

Importantly, Lowdown Dirty Criminals never descends into slapstick.

Overall, I found it well executed, notwithstanding the lack of follow through on a major plot point, which is left in limbo.

That is to ask, just what was “the merchandise” frequently referred to?

It appears Brechin-Smith was bereft of ideas on that score and, further, on how to provide an ending with some clout (basically, he wimped it).

Still, the film was easy to watch and, for the most part, entertaining.

Rated MA, Lowdown Dirty Criminals scores a 6½ out of 10.

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