DRAMA; 1hr 32min
STARRING: Ryan Corr, Abbey Lee, Matt Nable, Josh McConville, Simone Kessell
Bare-knuckled: Nable and Kessell
A copperhead is a species of venomous snake. It’s also the name of a (fictional) gang of West Australian outlaw motorcycle riders—the 1 per cent who don’t do legal and are a paradox of the deadly and the fiercely devoted in first-time director Stephen McCallum’s bloody/nasty debut.
The gang’s volcanic politics skid further south when club president Knuck (screenwriter Nable) is jailed, leaving his VP, Paddo (The Water Diviner’s Corr), to run the show. Paddo is a thoughtful sort, torn between his cosy home, his dark-horse girlfriend, Katrina (Lee), his self-perceived responsibility to his mentally challenged, disaster-magnet brother, Skink (McConville), and his canny ambition to expand the Copperheads’ business ops. This doesn’t sit well with newly released, controlling Knuck; ditto Skink’s compromising weakness for hard drugs. With the prez back in iron-fisted form—and shielding an explosive secret from his zealous wife, Hayley (Kessell)—Paddo is facing a terrible choice.
The performances are raw and feral and the production design reeks of oddly satisfying grunge. Then, too, there’s the queasy fatalism of an ongoing collapse that was always only a matter of
time. Here we go (down) again, men! No psychological ground is being broken, but the percenters at war are a frightening enough sight regardless, not just in their bully-boy
physicality—although that alone is nothing any sane civilian would sneeze at—but in the dismal futility of everything they’re hell-bent on undoing.