Bad Karma (2012)

Australia, US / 87 minutes / color / Anchor Bay, Zero Gravity, Limelight International, Odyssey Media Dir: Suri Krishnamma Pr: Grant Bradley, Dale Bradley Scr: Steve Allrich, Alevé Mei Loh Cine: Nino Martinetti Cast: Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell, Vanessa Gray, Aaron Pedersen, Andy McPhee, Imogen Hopper, Robin Moore (i.e., Robyn Moore).

In Sydney, Australia, booze-ridden US-expatriate junkie Jack Molloy (Liotta) has a heart attack while driving on the way to a drugs heist; the next he knows he’s in hospital, being told by a doctor (Moore) that in point of fact he died briefly, his heart being kick-started when his chest slammed into the steering wheel as his truck crashed. In his absence, his hardbitten partner Yates (Purcell) went ahead with the heist solo and was nabbed by the cops.

Three years later, Jack’s on probation, has cleaned up his act, has a steady job at a sawmill, and is living with jeweler Kelly (Gray), whom he hopes to marry. One night at a convenience store, however, Jack is confronted by Yates, fresh out of jail and by now completely psycho; Yates holds up the store, killing two people, and incriminates Jack. Yates purloins the CCTV disk so the cops are left clueless, but then uses it to try to blackmail Jack into One Last Job; he also invades Jack’s life with Kelly, passing himself off as Jack’s old friend Gary. And, when Jack’s workmate Bear (Pedersen), another ex-con, tries to do something about it, Yates decapitates him and plants the head in Jack and Kelly’s apartment . . .

Even though it doesn’t have much that’s new to say, this minor outing is not bereft of virtues. The pacing’s good (aside from a gratuitous piece of lingering nudity in the middle) and Purcell, Pedersen and Gray are better than good, with Hopper very funny in a small part as Kelly’s airhead assistant Lisa. Yet the overall feel—profanity and nudity aside—is that of a TV movie, and not an especially distinguished one. This is in part because the cinematography is, though adequate, somewhat uninspired, but mainly because of a drab performance at the movie’s core by Liotta; as junkie Jack he’s more a collection of clichés than a character, while for the bulk of the movie, as the reformed and then increasingly desperate version, he seems to be rather woodenly going through the motions rather than attempting to act the part, far less become Jack. Ironically, if the other three principals weren’t so excellent, this central vacuum might be less glaring.

On Bad Karma