Money Movers is an accomplished, if generic and unusually violent, crime thriller from Bruce Beresford. With this film, Beresford achieved his desired complete about-face from the girl school setting of The Getting of Wisdom.A traitor in Darcy’s Security firm is planning a heist. In Beresford’s clever screenplay, based on a novel by former security guard Devon Minchin, we initially see Eric Jackson (Terence Donovan) and his young brother (Bryan Brown) as the good guys bringing down a cocky organisation. But by the mid-point, when Jackson is being tortured by crime boss Henderson (Charles “Bud” Tingwell), our sympathies have switched. The characters closest to heroes have become Leo Bassett (Tony Bonner), who Jackson has tried to set up as a patsy, and the cynical ex-cop (Ed Devereaux) who’s the only one willing to be his mate. The others suspect Bassett of being a poofter though, ironically, he’s the only character to sleep with a woman during the film.
The torture scene is a turn-off – Jackson has his little toe cut off by a pair of giant bolt-cutting shears – but the rest of the film is generally fast-paced and exciting. Peculiarly Australian is the intense male bonding – half the characters stand around mouthing off about poofters but show no interest in women. Jeanie Drynan and Candy Raymond, both from Beresford’s Don’s Party, are good in the smallest of roles.
The film is dryly cynical - corruption matter-of-factly exists at every level. It’s accepted that all police are on the take and that the security industry offers the only gainful employment for violent, corrupt ex-cops. Adelaide convincingly passes for Sydney for the majority of the film, and the inner workings of the security firm are recreated on an impressive set by production designer David Copping and his crew.Although no masterpiece, the failure of Money Movers to find even the smallest of audiences in 1979 is baffling in retrospect.