There’s violence and guns, but it’s no ordinary action film

Transfusion ★★★½
(MA 15+) 106 minutes

Back in the world after touring Iraq, two retired special forces come together for a quick and dirty buck. This is a one-sentence outline for transfusionactor Matt Nable’s feature film debut, but the film is more than it sounds.

Sam Worthington stars in Transfusion.

Sam Worthington stars in Transfusion.Credit:

Nable, who played rugby league for Manly-Warringah and South Sydney in the 1990s, offers us a story full of nuance and irony. Nable’s father was a soldier. Tom Keneally is said to have mentored the young player at Manly. transfusion is in a sense a film about two ronin – the stateless samurai of Japanese legend. What do men trained in violence do when they are no longer allowed to use their training?

A pre-credits night sequence shows a raid on an Iraqi outpost. As SAS sniper Ryan Logan, Sam Worthington hunts down several men before being wounded himself. Nable, as his commanding officer Johnny, assures him that he will survive. A year or two later, back in Sydney, Logan and his wife (Phoebe Tonkin) are expecting a daughter. Her son Billy (played well by Gilbert Bradman at the age of eight) wonders about manhood. On a hunting trip with his father, the boy refuses to kill a deer. His father tells him that refusing the rifle took courage.

A few years later, for some reason, Logan accepts an offer to help Johnny with something illegal. “In and out, zero laps,” Johnny assures him. Of course it doesn’t play out that way.

Sam Worthington and Matt Nable play two men trained to be violent.

Sam Worthington and Matt Nable play two men trained to be violent. Credit:Stan

Nable also wrote the screenplay. Worthington stars, but the relationship between the men is the compelling part, as Nable offers us two characters at different points on the PTSD spectrum. One tries to forget, erase and forgive oneself; the other is far beyond, with no way back. “I don’t have a moral compass,” says Johnny, smiling as if he has a death wish. Between these two is the boy Billy, now around 16 years old (played by Edward Carmody), who is out of control and looking for guidance.


If the script has more depth than a run-of-the-mill actioner, it’s partly because of Worthington’s intense performance and partly because of Nable’s confident and careful direction. He knows exactly what to leave out – what keeps things moving – and he’s careful to remain believable. There are three distinct time frames between which the action darts nimbly without confusion: The haircuts tell us where we are. There’s violence and guns, but it’s no ordinary action film

Jaclyn Diaz

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