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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Thunderstruck

When it comes to a premise for a road movie - and an Australian road movie at that - you simply couldn't ask for a better one than the one Thunderstruck kicks off with: after rocking out (and almost making it into the drug-, booze-, and women-packed afterparty backstage) at a 1991 AC/DC concert, five mullet and black t-shirt wearing friends (Damon Gameau, Stephen Curry, Ryan Johnson, Callan Mulvey, and Sam Worthington) make a pact. When one of them dies, the remaining four will bury him next to the Fremantle grave of original AC/DC singer Bon Scott. Yeah, we all know Bon's ashes were only just scattered at Fremantle cemetery, but it's an honest mistake. Disappointingly, this pledge doesn't result in the quintet suddenly trying to off themselves in an laugh-packed attempt to win the prime burial site, and it takes twelve years until one of them (okay, it's Sam Worthington) finally dies and the remaining four – much changed from their Acca Dacca-worshipping days – get back together to honour their pledge via a cross-country drive through an outback full of weird and nutty characters. Remember that great premise for a road movie? It turns out that that's all this really has to offer, as around the point when it's time to deliver the goods this falls apart in a mish-mass of half-formed characters, stillborn jokes, and shifts in tone that feel like the film-makers were groping for a direction they couldn't quite find. Even usually reliable performers like Curry flounder here, and a climax where a horde of AC/DC fans all but dance on Bon Scott's grave to the sounds of the lamest AC/DC cover band ever formed is hardly going to win over fans of the music. The scene where wheelchair legend Quentin bashes one of the leads is about the only highlight: this is such a disappointment when the title song (which kicks in over the end credits) goes "you've been...", it's hard not to yell out "ripped off!"

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #324)

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