William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" receives a contemporary-dress adaptation from Australia that streamlines the stage play, primarily by shearing it of the subtlety of themes and characterization and reducing it to a series of bloody plot points. Director Geoffrey Wright ("Romper Stomper") and his co-screenwriter, Victoria Hill (who also stars as Lady Macbeth), set the gothic drama in the darkly chic world of a Melbourne gangster and his minions, but much gets lost in the translation.
Previously committed to film by the likes of Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski, this is also not the first time that "Macbeth" has been reset in a criminal underworld. The 1955 noir, "Joe Macbeth"; 1991's "Men of Respect" with John Turturro; and a 2003 Bollywood version, "Maqbool," all precede this account.
Here, Macbeth, played by up-and-comer Sam Worthington, dresses and struts like a petulant rock star. Egged on by hallucinatory visions and a grieving wife, the ambitious sideman knocks off his boss, Duncan (Gary Sweet), and then proceeds to whack anyone who might stand in his way.
All of the actors seem to have been directed to glower their way through scenes, but Worthington in particular is saddled with an overabundance of close-ups in which he squints ominously into the distance, projecting what exactly? Bad things are about to happen? Ambition run amok leads to self-destruction? His vision isn't what it once was?