Full disclosure here: Upon finding out that Guy Pearce starred in a series of Australian noir detective films for television, I thought he had pissed someone off and was slumming it; I’ll admit, 1 was curious about how bad it was going to be. Turns out that Jack Irish has become one of my favorite franchises. I’m eagerly awaiting more installments, but for the moment the books the series is based off of (by Peter Temple, if you’re curious) will have to scratch my new itch. Also, interestingly enough, Guy Pearce got his start on Australian television, so this wasn’t so much him slumming as it was returning home. Shows me what I get for assuming things. But I digress…
Guy plays our titular character of Jack Irish in the series, a former lawyer spurned by tragedy who seems to fall ass-first into mysteries to solve. He’s without a doubt a noir styled protagonist, and even a likable one as compared to Kiss Me Deadly’s Mike Hammer. He’s not even first and foremost a detective, sporting a rather impressive resume: Debt collection, horse betting, apprentice cabinetry, and property acquisitions. The first film, Bad Debts, really gets going at a point that stories of its type typically do, with a phone call from an old colleague. Of course, Jack ignores it and he winds up dead. The second film, Black Tide, showcases what few family ties Jack has left calling for aid. The third film (and arguably weakest) in the trilogy, Dead Point, has Jack retrieving a mysterious book from a judge.
Those familiar with the structure of the phenomenal BBC series Sherlock should be familiar with the three feature length episodes presented in Jack Irish: The Movies Collection. Behind the scenes featurettes are present for Black Tide and Dead Point, along with a photo gallery for good measure. Some commentary tracks would have been welcome, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. It should be noted that unlike Sherlock, the three films presented here were made several years apart from each other, instead of during one fell swoop. The characters do age, and it gives the series a nice patina to rub on the hard boiled edges. Each one of these films could have been released theatrically and they’d have most likely made bank.
Jack Irish Season 1 is more like a television mini-series than a full fledged TV season. Abandoning the telefilm format, we’re instead presented with six episodes to form a larger and more ambitious narrative. Part of the charm of the films were the seemingly unconnected plot threads that were layered on throughout until they connected and moved the case forward…these six episodes play on that strength presenting two concurrent main narratives…one involving Jack investigating a murder he witnessed after he suspects a set up, and the other following Jack’s girlfriend as she pursues her journalism career abroad. Season 1 boasts a behind the scenes featurette and photo gallery as well.
The Jack Irish Series has been an entertaining modern noir that’s highly intelligent and sophisticated. Set in a believable world with a rich and colorful cast of characters, the series would be great for a weekend marathon. Either collection can be watched without the other, but the full benefit of the narratives is best experienced as a whole. That being said, I feel sorry for those Aussie viewers that had to wait years between the first telefilms.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.