Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay) Robert Drewe (Novel)
Starring: Heath Ledger, Orland Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan
Plot: An innocent man becomes one of the most wanted criminals the world has ever known.
Tagline – When the law tried to silence him a legend was born.
Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Biopic 101
Story: Ned Kelly starts in 1871 Australia where an Irish family the Kelly’s have settled in with the eldest son Ned (Ledger) ends up getting into trouble with the law, that has always targeted his family, seeing him placed in prison for a couple of years. Once out Ned does start to try and turn his family’s luck around with his friends Joseph Byrne (Bloom) and Aaron Sherritt (Edgerton), while working for an English family where Ned falls for Julia (Watts).
When Ned gets framed for assault by the constable that has always been out for his blood, his family gets targeted, but not the police are not going to stop until they have his head, forcing Ned to go on the run to protect his family, making him one of the most wanted criminals in the world.
Thoughts on Ned Kelly
Characters – Ned Kelly is a young Irish man that has always seen his family targeted by the law, he has gotten himself in trouble because of this, which sees him falsely accused and becoming a target. Ned refused to back down from the law needing to go on the run, leading to him becoming an outlaw taking from the rich inspiring the poor as he fights for what is right and his family’s pride. Joseph Byrne is Ned’s best friend, he will stand by his side through his battles, needing to do the right thing. Superintendent Francis Hare is the man charged with capturing the Kelly gang, he doesn’t want to hear the story, he just wants them gone. Julia Cook is an English woman that Ned was working for, she is one of the few that will help him seeing the good in his nature, but being held back by her own family.
Performances – Heath Ledger does a great job here showing how he wanted to break his pretty boy image, this performance makes this happen with ease. Orlando Bloom in the supporting role is strong without being truly great, while Geoffrey Rush feels wasted, with him being involved but not getting too much screen time, same goes for Naomi Watts, she just doesn’t get enough time to shine.
Story – The story here follows the innocent man that gets forced into become an outlaw who becomes the most wanted man in Australia. This story shows how settlers in other countries would always be unfairly targeted by the locals who saw them as threats, how people’s words could create outlaws because nobody would listen or understand the truths within a world. The story is only really told from Ned’s which will always make him look like the innocent man he was, but we do hear and see that most of the group have served time, so they might not be as innocent as they look (this is only from what the film shows, not what I know about the truth).
Action/Biopic/Western – The action is everything you would expect from a western, we have seen the shooting like always. The biopic does only show one side of the story and it does feel like there is more to tell.
Settings – The film utilises the location to show how Ned Kelly has to go into hiding and including the showdown.
Final Thoughts – This is a by the book biopic that showed one of the most famous outlaws in Australia, though it doesn’t seem to reach an intensity level that it could have.
Overall: Nice biopic.