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Mr. Reliable Review

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A small-time thief shacks up with his new love and her son in a quiet suburb of Sydney and sparks a highly publicised siege when he wards off two patrolmen with a double-barrelled shotgun.

★★★★★

With the land down under currently churning out at least one sleeper smash every year (Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla), any offering from antipodean shores should be greeted with renewed levels of anticipation. This latest effort is a more low-key affair, lacking the necessary pizzazz to send it spiralling, but remaining undemandingly amiable.

Based on a true incident from the late 60s, a small-time thief (Friels) shacks up with his new love and her son in a quiet suburb of Sydney and sparks a highly publicised siege when he wards off two patrolmen with a double-barrelled shotgun. Riot squads arrive, the media gets wind of the story, and a carnival atmosphere develops among the hordes of police, reporters and bystanders as the resistance of the inept authorities turns the besieged couple into nationwide celebrities.

But natural born killers they are not. Friels' Wally Mellish is a man of modest ambition, determined to do right by his family, and has guileless honesty and genuine belief that he can sort the whole thing out, that you can't help but root for him.

McKenzie is equally sympathetic as Wally's world-weary girlfriend Beryl, but top marks go to Sonkkila's commissioner, whose involvement extends to reluctant best man duties at Wally and Beryl's mid-siege wedding.

Tass delivers the tale with fairly even measures of tension and humour, and it makes for a pleasant enough distraction - it's just difficult to shake the feeling that you should be watching this with your tea, and will turn over for Home And Away when it's finished.

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