ACTION ADVENTURE; 1hr 43min
STARRING: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Christopher Pang, Deniz Akdeniz, Ashleigh Cummings, Phoebe Tonkin, Lincoln Lewis, Andrew Ryan
Bush brigade: from left, Lewis, Akdeniz, Stasey and Cummings
While seven country teenagers are going bush in the weeklong camping trip of a lifetime, a war is erupting in the outside world. When Ellie (Stasey), Corrie (Hurd-Wood), Lee (Pang), Homer (Akdeniz), Robyn (Cummings), Fiona (Tonkin) and Kevin (Lewis) return, their home town is a battle zone overrun by shoot-to-kill soldiers. It’s a shocking discovery and what these regular kids manage to do with it makes for an eerie nail-biter as the gang turns commando to stay alive, hunted throughout by a nameless, remorseless force.
The odd cumbersome and stagy intrusion aside, the ensemble cast — Ryan is a late, ring-in addition — makes a great action-stations fist of things. But writer-director Stuart Beattie’s adaptation of the first book in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series is equally concerned with (literally) exploding one version of reality as it is with exploring the psychological toll of adapting to a horrifying new one. Sometime narrator Ellie is the emotional nexus; still, each character has life-changing choices to make and good on the gutsy cast for giving them such a wholehearted go.