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:: Under the Radar

Surfing and gangsters come together at last in a very Aussie road trip movie. Under the Radar is an action/comedy that features one of Australia’s top models, a well-known comedian, and decent sized body count. It comes from the makers of Blurred and has a similar feel in many respects.

A surf rage incident leaves Brandon (Nathan Phillips) on a good behaviour bond with a lengthy stint of community service in a home for the disabled. Worst of all, it has left him high and dry, miles from the beach, and miles from the big surf competition.

In the disabled home, he meets Adrian (Clayton Watson), who lost his short-term memory in a serious accident when he was fourteen. Adam writes descriptions of anything he sees or does in his diary to cope with his affliction. Brandon doesn’t take long to find a way to exploit Adam’s problem and soon he is on the road towards the waves with both Adam and tag-along Cerebral Palsy patient, Trevor (Steady Eddy). Trevor is the headstrong and opinionated party guy. He gets what he wants, and when he doesn’t, there’s hell to pay. Along the way, they pick up Jo (Chloe Maxwell), a mysterious beauty in need of a ride. With the car now full, they’re ready for the road trip.

In fact, they’re ready for anything, except the gang war they stumble into. The bad guys are stereotypically bad and the body count grows like in an old spaghetti western. Our heroes must stay ‘under the radar’ if they want to stay alive and make it to the beach.

This is the third feature film for Phillips, whose credits include One Perfect Day and Australian Rules, yet he doesn’t bring much depth to the role and is continuously outshone by his supporting cast. Maxwell’s first foray into acting is a fair effort, though she is let down by an uninspiring script. In recent years, Maxwell has become one of Australia’s most successful models, winning recognition around the country. Steady Eddy gives the stand out performance as Trevor and most of the laughs stem from his “can and will do anything” attitude.

Under the Radar is entertaining and intermittently funny, but many of its jokes fall flat and exaggerated Australian accents are off-putting, again proclaiming to the world that we are a nation of Steve Irwins and Crocodile Dundees.