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Guy Pearce is brooding, intelligent, and sexy in the first two 'Jack Irish' films - dark but entertaining and absorbing dramas.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Jack Irish, Series 1’

Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) plays a down-and-out private investigator in Acorn Media’s Blu-ray release Jack Irish, Series 1. The Blu-ray/DVD combo set includes two feature-length television movies, adapted from the crime novels by Australian Peter Temple.

Linda (Marta Dusseldorp) and Jack (Guy Pearce)
Linda (Marta Dusseldorp) and Jack (Guy Pearce)

The first film, Bad Debts, starts off happily enough, with successful Melbourne criminal defense lawyer Jack Irish enjoying the morning with his beautiful wife. Devotees of the hard-boiled detective genre will suss out immediately that life for Jack will quickly be turned upside down. His wife Isabel (Emma Booth) is murdered and Jack falls into a black hole, eventually making ends meet by becoming a part-time detective and debt collector. One of his former clients calls him for help and Jack avoids his voicemails – but he can’t avoid his past anymore when the man turns up dead. He pulls himself together enough to investigate the death and maybe rejoin the world, at least a little. He is able to accomplish the latter with the help of reporter Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), who soon becomes his love interest – at least for a while.

In Black Tide, the second episode, we find Jack once again down in the dumps, as Linda has left Melbourne (and Jack) for a brighter future in Sydney. An old friend of his family, Des Connors (Ron Jacobson), asks for his help in locating his son Gary (Nicholas Coghlan) who’s gone missing – with all of his dad’s money. As Jack searches for the man he talks with his wife, and the girlfriend of an elusive blogger, Lyall (Diana Glenn), who soon tries to get Jack to pick up the slack left by her missing boyfriend, and a variety of seedy characters who may or may not be able to lead him to the truth.

When the going gets tough, Jack and his friends Harry (Roy Billing) and Cam (Aaron Pedersen) head for the track
When the going gets tough, Jack and his friends Harry (Roy Billing) and Cam (Aaron Pedersen) head for the track

The two movies in Series 1 were directed by Jeffrey Walker and originally broadcast in Australia in 2012. The Blu-ray has an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, in widescreen format, and a total running time of 202 minutes. There is a bonus behind-the-scenes feature included on both the Blu-ray and the DVD. The sound is crisp and clear (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0), with English subtitles available. The moody title song, “Red Right Hand,” is performed by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

The mood of Jack Irish is dark, and viewers should be aware that both films contain strong language, violence, graphic images, nudity, and sexual situations. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from these entertaining and absorbing dramas. Pearce is brooding, intelligent, and sexy as Jack Irish. As much as the viewer can empathize with his personal losses, it is clear that Jack works best on the dark side of town. A third Jack Irish film, Dead Point, has been completed, and plans are in the works for two more films, which is good news indeed.

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