Written and Directed by Matt Nable.
Starring Sam Worthington, Matt Nable, Phoebe Tonkin, Edward Carmody, Susie Porter, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Sam Parsonson, Sam Cotton, George Houvardas, Damien Strouthos, Brad McMurray, Julian Maroun, Alex Malone, Trystan Go, Alison McGirr, Darius William,s Mike Duncan, Gilbert Bradman, Rachel Biazzo, Ethan Puse, Christopher Stollery, Damian de Montemas, Jessica Napier, and Aaron Nable.
A former Special Forces operative thrust into the criminal underworld to keep his only son from being taken from him.
There is a contemplative quietness to Transfusion (the directorial debut of screenwriter and actor Matt Nable) that gradually heightens the internal pain and conflict of Sam Worthington’s traumatized former special forces turned salesman turned criminal Ryan Logan.
A lesser, generic film would have run with the tropes for run-of-the-mill shootouts, so it’s a pleasant surprise that, with a subtle score from Luke Altmann (the atmospheric kind that feels as if it’s swirling around inside the head of the protagonist), this feature is primarily character driven to such a degree that some of the more predictable revelations hit harder dramatically. The narrative also allows Sam Worthington to flex his Australian accent and nuanced acting chops not often seen on screen, complete with an entirely new aesthetic.
Having already been injured serving in Iraq, another tragedy befell’s the Logan family, this time leaving their young son Billy (played by Gilbert Bradman, aged eight, and Edward Carmody, aged 16) motherless (Phoebe Tonkin still pops up afterward as a hallucinatory conscience guiding Ryan, although there’s not much to the role).
Transfusion buys into the idea that between the PTSD from nearly dying to a neck gunshot wound and losing the love of his wife, having to raise his son all alone while struggling to adjust back into society (he is temperamental and can’t hold a job, with Sam Worthington appropriately playing up how ill-suited the character feels as a salesman), that Billy would also end up somewhat lonely and directionless in life, inevitably getting into a rough crowd. Here, that rough crowd involves a father with connections to Ryan.
Matt Nable also performs triple duty as Ryan’s former squad partner, Johnny, who hasn’t landed on his feet after the war, turning to crime rather than attempting to fit in with regular jobs. Naturally, he pulls Ryan in for a supposedly simple job that would greatly improve their financial troubles, quickly going south. While some viciously brutal fight scenes involve characters headbutting one another, Transfusion is less about fisticuffs and more about Ryan’s mind and a slow-burn reveal of one particular event. As more information is divulged, it further fleshes out the fractured dynamic between father and son while rounding out Ryan as a character.
The crime aspects and bad teenagers Jimmy gets involved with are fairly formulaic, so it is fortunate that Matt Nable has fixated on painting Ryan as a grounded and believable human being still struggling following a tragedy. Again, the scenes of him interacting with an imagined version of his dead wife come from cinematic grieving 101 but are handled sensitively without getting into melodrama.
Transfusion is content allowing Sam Worthington to act, which pays off. He and the movie are filled with quiet intensity and short bursts of violent anger, which is effective enough for this relatively familiar but compelling story.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com