Monday, 3 December 2012

Jack Irish: Bad Debts FX UK with Guy Pearce PREVIEW

Guy Pearce as Jack Irish. Pics: FX UK
Rating: ★★★★ 

FX UK: Friday, 14 December, 9pm  

Story: Jack Irish, one-time lawyer, is getting his life back together following a tragedy when he is contacted by a former client who went to prison. By the time Jack gets his message, the former client is dead, and Jack starts asking questions that open up a huge and dangerous scandal…

Aussie noir is the latest bruiser on the block with this hard-bitten but amiable saga starring Guy Pearce.

Based on the novels of Peter Temple – who won Australia's equivalent of the Booker for his terrific novel Truth – Jack Irish features in four books and Bad Debts is the first of them. Irish is a damaged hero with a couple of rough edges, all of which makes him fun to spend time with.

When we meet Irish he's a criminal lawyer whose life is about to take a tragic turn from the gun of an enraged client. Jack's beautiful young wife, Isabel, is in the line of fire.

Occupational hazard – Jack the debt collector
Jack Irish teams up with journalist Linda
He leaves his old life and career, becomes a part-time investigator, debt collector, apprentice cabinet maker and gambler. When a former client, who went to prison for a hit-and-run killing, leaves a message for Jack and then quickly turns up dead, curious Jack soon finds himself in the midst of a mighty property scandal.

Was the client guilty of the hit-and-run after all? And what's happened to the witness whose testimony put him away? Politicians and senior policeman all seem somehow involved. When Jack teams up with journalist Linda, in bed and on the investigation, some nasty people come calling.

The joy of this series is that during its 100 minutes we get to really know Jack, his barfly mates and his gambling chums, where most cop shows just give us the mechanics of whodunit.

'I'll shoot your balls off'
And how does Oz noir differ from that of Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France, Norway and all the rest on our screens just now? The dry, un-PC humour and slang certainly stand out.

Happier times – Jack with wife Isabel
'Do come in, or I'll shoot your balls off,' says one guy whose debt Jack has come to collect, pointing a gun at the groin area. Jack's Aussie rules football-playing dad is described as the 'toughest man in an athletic support', and the bar drunks call women 'sheilas'.

Despite Jack Irish being a reluctant tough guy in the Jim Rockford mould, Bad Debts doesn't lack in the action department, with the odd chase, shootouts and explosions. Guy Pearce, who has form in terrific crime films from Memento to LA Confidential, plays Jack as an easy-going, decent sort. But despite the flashes of humour there are also some jolting shocks in what is a gripping, violent story.

FX UK will follow Bad Debts with a second film, Black Tide (21 December), and there are rumours that the third and fourth novels, Dead Point and White Dog, could also become telemovies. Which sounds pretty bonzer.

Cast: Guy Pearce Jack Irish, Marta Dusseldorp Linda Hillier, Aaron Pedersen Cam Delroy, Roy Billing Harry Strang, Damien Richardson Drew Greer, Shane Jacobson Barry Tregear, Vadim Glowna Charlie Taub, Colin Friels Garth Bruce, Steve Bisley Kevin Pixley, Emma Booth Isabel Irish, Marshall Napier Father Gorman, Rhys Muldoon Rod Pringle, Tottie Goldsmith as Jackie Pixley, Colin Hay Tony Baker