Movie review – Two men, a judge and jury

2011-08-19 15:36

Film: Retribution (UIP)
Director: Mukunda Michael Dewil
Featuring: Joe Mafela, Jeremy Crutchley, Shoki Mokgapa and Morné Visser
Rating: 6/10

This is quite a debut from writer and director Mukunda Michael Dewil – one of those “love it or hate it” films.

While there are many problems with it, it is always great to see local filmmakers getting into the swing of making genre films. Sure, this one has its fair share of issues, but they are woven into a pretty taut thriller.

Veteran TV funnyman Joe Mafela tries his hand at a very serious role here – that of a retired judge in self-imposed exile who is writing his memoirs.

The first sign of anything untoward is Judge Maphosa’s struggle to get his thoughts down on paper; instead they seem to send him in search of the whiskey bottle.

The second sign of trouble is much less sinister at first glance.

A lost hiker called Alan (Jeremy Crutchley) turns up at the judge’s isolated abode and asks for shelter for the night. When the judge awakens to find the house spic-and-span, he’s more nervous than grateful, and so begins a battle of wills between the two men that quickly turns nasty and, ultimately, violent.

Crutchley is an actor of note who most recently has been in Skin and Spud. Here, however, his “crazy” is a little too over the top and probably better suited to the stage. Mafela, too, seems uncomfortable in the judge’s skin and fails to portray the gravitas to pull off the role satisfactorily.

That these two veterans of stage and screen can’t relax into their roles, or completely sell them to the audience, is probably a reflection on the inexperienced director.

However, Retribution manages to deliver its share of sucker punches and gets the required number of gasps from the audience – as many and, in some cases many more than, say, some B-grade thrillers we get lumped with from Hollywood.

Dewil is currently directing Vehicle 19, which he wrote and which has snagged Paul Walker of The Fast and The Furious fame as the star.

Clearly, Dewil is a man on the move in movies.

Retribution is a pretty good debut from a guy who cut his teeth directing adverts.

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