The laconic pace of outback Australia seems an unlikely platform for a thriller but Aaron Pedersen as executive producer and star winds us so tight in this neat little film that there are times I could barely breathe. 

Aaron Pederson in action

The open spaces of the outback support the tensions built in Mystery Road

This is a tale of the good man overcoming adversity and given that our hero is a black detective returning home from detective school “down south”, the adversity mounts thick and fast. From the opening scenes which outlay the tragic murder of one of “his” people through to the final shoot out the relaxed and open space of the script allows the heat, dust and loaded history of the frontier to blow through the action with full force.
The use of arial photography provides a powerful sense of location as we watch suburban cars cruise around suburban Winton. The ramshackle disrepair provides a hauntingly dangerous backdrop to the actions and rifles with scopes brings the action close up and personal in a way that hollywood action shoot ’em ups rarely do.
There are the inevitable sacrifices made for the sake of bringing the action to an audience without too much set up and explanation: targets are always centred in the cross hairs, for example, where as a real sniper has to shoot off centre to cope with distance and wind. The protaganists “tail” each other at a couple of hundred metres in a landscape where most horizons are tens of kilometers away.
It’s relatively low budget and looks very homegrown to a local audience but the scenery is so exotic, the language so true to life and the depicted events are so stark, harsh and heart-rending that this is essentially a foreign film told in Australian English.
As such, it is probably limited to the art-house circuit in Australia, but will almost inevitably become a cult film somewhere in the world.
I would not be surprised if it spawns a genre of films in the way that a Fistful of dollars did in the seventies. This is a powerful piece of work.

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