The Legend of Ben Hall (NR)

Action/Adventure 134 min.
By Luke Y. Thompson
About 80 percent of the time, any movie whose creators feel the need to use the word "legend" in the title isn't. And indeed, while Ben Hall may be an Australian folk hero, this serious attempt at a historically accurate biopic doesn't really make the case, unless you think going from house to house robbing people and stagecoaches for the money (sans Robin Hood–style redistribution plan) is especially legendary. Writer-director Matthew Holmes is trying for a new Bonnie and Clyde, minus Bonnie and most of the sexuality, and with three Clydes … your reaction may depend upon how appealing that sounds.

Still, it's a serviceable Aussie Western set circa 1864, one that moves at a good clip despite being more than two hours long. It's just a shame that the real issues of power dynamics, race and class only get discussed in the final half-hour, when the rest of the running time has been mostly fixated on sexy, blue-eyed hero (Jack Martin) being sexy. Martin's Ben Hall is a noble thief who never kills and is always respectful toward women and children; his two riding mates are less so, as sidekick Happy Jack (Jamie Coffa, stealing the show) is crazy and loves infamy, while newbie John Dunn (William Lee) is clearly in over his head and ready to screw up.

How did Ben become the man he ended up as? Damned if the movie gives us more than some bad dream sequences to go on. The last nine months of his life might illuminate more if you already know the story, but otherwise, an origin would be really helpful.
Matthew Holmes Jack Martin, Jamie Coffa, William Lee, Joanne Dobbin, Adam Willson, Erica Field, Callan McAuliffe, Arthur Angel, Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Gregory Quinn Matthew Holmes


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