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‘Australian Gangster’ is a two-part television miniseries produced by the Seven Network in Australia. This series debuted on September 13, 2023, and was directed by Gregor Jordan and Faida Abboud. The project was originally set to premiere in October 2018, however it was postponed owing to outstanding legal issues involving the real tale characters on whom the program is based, which were still ongoing at the time and couldn’t be published until they were ultimately resolved.
The four-hour series follows the lives and deaths of a modern generation of criminals in Australia’s capital city. This kind of breed, headed by a flamboyant loudmouth named Pasquale Barbaro (Alexander Bertrand), is unconcerned about anything. Whether it’s staying safe while playing this hazardous game, maintaining a low profile to avoid attracting the notice of law authorities and other competitors, or even being caught and imprisoned. The main character is a carefree contemporary thug who is primarily concerned with how he seems on the photo-sharing site Instagram, and who is trying to make a name for himself in a new, want tobe criminal scene while dealing with the responsibilities of being a family guy.
Gregor Jordan, best known for the Australian classic crime comedy “Two Hands,” does his hardest to inject some excitement into the true tale of the ambitious criminal boss Barbaro, but there is a lot of silence throughout the opening almost two hours of the film. Regardless of the cause, the viewer learns very little about Barbaro’s illegal actions over this lengthy period of screen time. This may be because the actual Pasquale Barbaro was killed in 2016, and the filmmakers were afraid of being sued, so they took out a lot of important and hard-hitting information. Instead, viewers witness a few montages of the latter selling narcotics, this gym rat driving about in his beautiful Lamborghini and sometimes inhaling spells of cocaine, while his adversary, a Lebanese mobster known simply as Little Crazy, portrayed by Rahel Romahn, tries to put him down.
However, things perk up in the last hour of the show. Little Crazy is doing all he can to keep the want tobe kingpin from making it big in both the peddling hustle and real estate, and the narrative’s themes are now apparent. In fact, the series depicts a normal approach to Sydney real estate, complete with numerous real-world references inspired by the disappearance of Australian activist Juanita Nielsen, whose fight against property development cost her her life. Litle Crazy insults Barbaro to some degree by labeling him a clown, putting him in Barbaro’s bad books. The issue is that Barbaro is unable to pull the trigger since his children have been unable to sleep since he forced them to see the horror film “Child’s Play.” Will Barbaro carry out the assassination himself, or will he delegate it to a hitman to avoid legal repercussions?
Barbaro’s showy lifestyle of many body piercings, expensive clothes, and disgusting habits of picking up women at the fitness center are the primary emphasis of this series, while his poor wife Melinda, played by Louisa Mignone, struggles to care for their children. However, there are a few cultural clash comedy moments strewn throughout the series. For example, in the scene when Barbaro blackmails a middle-class family into dropping a complaint against his aggressive pre-schooler, only to discover afterwards that his daughter was not at fault. The complimentary expensive wine that Barbaro offered the couple as a peace gift is snatched back by Barbaro.
What’s perplexing is that the program doesn’t appear to know how it wants its main guy to be seen by the viewers. Many people are left wondering if he is a witty thug or a thug with genuine street smarts. As is typical of these kind of tales, they thrive when both elements are combined. Unfortunately, the writing of ‘Australian Gangster’ does not go far enough in this regard.
An element that would have given the series a fresh direction away from the typical crime clichés falls flat on its face when looking at the first episode, which promises to expose naked the social media-laden life of an Instagram criminal.
Watching this series in 2023, with the technical advances that the social media platform has seen in the past several years, and considering it was created in 2017, it seems a little antiquated, which is something that any social media enthusiast would notice right away. Another notable feature is the usage of Australian implications, which are exclusively understood by Australian viewers. However, since Australian shows are now shown worldwide, some of the themes may be lost.
There’s also the issue of dowdy violence, in which males are the real thing and women stand by and watch. This might have worked four years ago, but today if your narrative doesn’t organically include women, it won’t get exposure on Australian television.
Despite the series’ choppy and abrasive editing in the annoying television sense, the greatest aspect of this program is that viewers get more screen time with Bertrand, who is quite the genuine thing in the Great Southern Land. Despite being surrounded by half-baked characters and a plot that takes forever to get going, this Australian hottie manages to project his true star power. He keeps the show afloat on his own, ensuring that viewers are engaged and intrigued. His portrayal is so real, frightening, tragic, and compelling that it’s easy to believe he’s lived the sort of criminal life he portrays on film.
Australian Gangster is tacky, quick, and pulpy, with a lot of bling, yet it’s as forgettable as the glitter itself. It isn’t bad, and it doesn’t come off as ridiculous, unlike the mindlessness at its heart. Despite this, Bertrand’s execution of the notorious Australian criminal lord is still worth seeing.
SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
Victoria Starmer is an Australian actress and model. She has appeared in several films, including the Academy Award-winning The Piano and The Lord of the Rings. Reference: victoria starmer.
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