Australasian Cinema > films >

Never Too Late

Never Too Late (Mark Lamprell, 2020) wr. Luke Preston, Grant Carter, dp Peter Falk; James Cromwell, Jacki Weaver, Dennis Waterman, Jack Thompson, Roy Billing, Shane Jacobson, Renee Lim, Max Cullen, Darren Gilshenan; Aust release 29Oct2020

It has been a long time since Caine, Bronson, Angus and Wendell, aka 'The Chain Breakers', escaped the torturous Vietnamese POW camp. They now find themselves sharing a new prison, The Hogan Hills Retirement Home for Returned Veterans. Each of the boys has an unrealised dream they want to achieve before it's too late. So, once again they band together to devise a plan to escape this new hell. But the rules of engagement have changed, in fact, they can't even remember what they were and that's half the problem.

God knows how this very good cast were persuaded to work with this third-rate director on this very poor script. There are two scenes where Jack Thompson is sitting across the table from James Cromwell with Roy Billing on one side of him and Dennis Waterman on the other. And Jack — one of the greatest actors who ever worked on an Australasian film set — has no lines! Well, except to state the motto of the 'Chain Breakers' - which I've forgotten, because it about as meaningful (not) as Just Do It. He actually looks good doing his no lines because he's incapable of acting poorly. But it's a shame. (A Hollywood production in the glory days would have brought in a specialist writer just to write a few telling lines for a star of this magnitude.)

A good script can make poor actors look quite clever. But it doesn't work the other around. If the script is shit, there's nothing much the actors can do about it. I suspect they also got minimal direction, as they all fall back on what we've seen them do in other much better films. Cromwell is authoritative, Jacki Weaver is cute (and she can be really scary), Dennis Waterman plays the working-class Lothario we've so often seen on TV, and Roy Billing is successfully comic with little effort. But Jack - oh Jack - why did you take this job when you could be taking it easy while you wait for the offer to play King Lear to come along? ... Or whatever else you have left to do before the end of your wonderful career.

Here are the other four features that Mark Lamprell has directed. How many can you remember? I think I've seen three of them, but it's hard to remember, as they are so ... forgettable: My Mother Frank, After the Rain, Goddess, A Few Less Men.

Garry Gillard | New: 27 October, 2020 | Now: 30 October, 2020