Heaven's Burning (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Oh, no. It's Tarantino with an Australian accent.

Russell Crowe has a lot of debts and is a great driver. To the mob, this makes him an ideal getaway driver, so he ends up as the wheels in a daring daylight bank robbery. Too daring. It gets botched, and they take a hostage to shield themselves from police gunfire.

Alternate story: a Japanese couple are in Australia on their honeymoon. She mysteriously disappears, and nobody can figure it out. Is it a kidnapping? Nope. She really doesn't like the guy, or Japanese society, and she runs away. She's in a bank cashing some traveler's checks when some baddies break in and start robbing. She ends up getting kidnapped to use as a human shield.

Needless to say, the two stories intersect at this point. The baddies want to kill her after they escape, but driver Russell Crowe didn't sign on for murdering innocent victims, so he saves her, killing a mob guy in the process.

They must go on the lam together, ultimately to kill and be killed.

They fall in love. That's some tender Bonnie 'n Clyde shit, right there.

Three separate forces are coming after them. The Afghani mobsters, the woman's husband, and the law. I guess you can figure out most of the details without seeing the film.


The mobsters are especially ruthless. They enjoy cutting out eyeballs and nailing people to furniture, so you're in for some wacky splatter there, if torture is your thing.

The script is especially weak even for this genre. Russell's character has to be the world's dumbest guy. Running from the law and the mob, he signs into motels under his own name, and his brilliant getaway plan is to go to his dad's place (his dad is a well-known sheep rancher who has lived in the same place forever). The Aussie police and the mobsters don't really seem to have any trouble figuring out where he is 24/7. Of course, they still can't catch him, but they know where he is, apparently just for reference in case they ever need to catch him in the future.

Worse than that, nothing in the film makes sense. They rob a bank in downtown Sydney, and manage to escape from the police by driving through city streets. No police back-up appears. No helicopters trail them. They don't change cars. They just drive out of town. OK.

Then, in the final chase, helicopters do trail them, but the choppers disappear without any explanation. Huh? I gave up trying to figure out what the hell was going on in this film. There was a lot cut from the scenes at Crowe's dad's ranch, to the point where the stuff they left in didn't really make any sense. (The deleted scenes offered some clues.)

Even Russell Crowe publicly announced that the movie sucked. He read the script and thought it had some excellent satirical elements, but when he saw the final cut, he realized it came out as a badly chopped grade-b thriller with a touch of xenophobia about foreigners screwing up Australia. He's not only a good actor, he's not a bad movie critic either.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a pretty good transfer, with nice clear and bright images.

There are some deleted scenes.

If you're familiar with the pop group Men at Work, Colin Hays is in this film in a really strange surrealistic part, as a wheelchair-driving hobo who constantly plays Wagner on the accordion.

Some really quirky minor characters, some arresting cinematography, and the fact that Russell is more interesting and charismatic than Eric Roberts combine to place this above the level of a straight-to-vid USA release.

But not much above.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: no major reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Even for pulp film fiction lovers, it's derivative, the splatter is predictable, and the action is often discontinuous. With Eric Roberts or Kiefer Sutherland in the lead, it would be a D, but Crowe's considerable screen presence offers some entertainment.

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