The sequel to Australian director Ivan Sen’s impressive crime thriller Mystery Road continues the adventures of rugged and laconic Indigenous detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen), who uncovers some seriously shady dealings in the middle of the Outback while investigating the disappearance of a Chinese migrant worker.
This impressive crime thriller is a sequel to Ivan Sen's equally engaging Mystery Road (TIFF 2013). Employing the same central character — the rugged, laconic Indigenous Australian detective Jay Swan — and spectacular outback settings, Sen revisits his previous film but also reshapes it in novel ways. What is unique is the director's fiery mix of genre conventions with the contemporary matter of Aboriginal relations, a fascinating hybrid topped off by his penchant for strong visual compositions and arresting, idiosyncratic characters.
This Jay Swan is very different from the self-controlled detective of Mystery Road. He is now a scruffy vagrant, arrested for drunk driving in the first scenes of the film. Holed up in a two-bit outpost in the middle of nowhere, he is looking, it soon becomes apparent, for a Chinese migrant woman who has disappeared. Things start to get interesting when he has a series of encounters with the locals: the young, sharply turned-out town cop, the head of a mining company, and the town's brassy mayor. Swan stirs things up as he digs deeper into his investigation, uncovering an unsavoury mess of nepotism and crime.
What elevates Goldstone above its genre roots is Sen's assured direction and his uncanny ability to set the right tone, strike the right notes, and not just have fun with his material but also deal with key issues.
As tough and grizzled as a young Humphrey Bogart, Aaron Pedersen excels in the role of Swan, adding the right dash of devil-may-care insouciance to the part, while Sen surrounds him with a wild assortment of baddies to flesh out his film, turning Goldstone into a piece of intelligent and provocative entertainment.