A film titled MONEY MOVERS could only be a heist movie (or an expose on the life of accountants), though in this case it has a literal meaning, too, since the heist concerns a Sydeny-based payroll company. Based on a book by a former security officer (and inspired by two 1970 robberies), MONEY MOVERS wisely begins by dictating the inner workings of the company itself for its first 15 minutes so that we get a good idea of not just how difficult it would be for someone to knock it over, but also what exactly is at stake. Since this is a security company and not a bank, everyone has guns, everyone has an attitude and, most important of all, most everyone has a reason to knock the place over. It's an inside job all the way, planned by Terrance Donovan, his brother Bryan Brown and another employee, three guys who've been with the company long enough to be trusted and long enough to be enticed by all that money. Their motives are practically secondary; they're determined to do the job they've been planning for 5 years and now there's a fire lit under them to finally get it done. These things don't always go as planned, of course, and there are numerous complications - unwanted third parties muscling in on the job, suspicious co-workers, fall guys who don't fall so easily - and much of what makes MONEY MOVERS so compelling is the matter-of-fact storytelling technique that Beresford employs, while at the same time never losing sight of the genre he's in or pretending that he - or the film - are above it. The fact that MONEY MOVERS feels very much like many of the other quality Aussie films of its era - while at the same time a heist movie - is what makes it feel fresh to me. This is one of the few attempts to make a modern day noir that works on its own terms, especially without feeling like a rip-off or (even worse) a homage. Yes, it could have been made by Fox in the Forties with Tyrone Power or Dana Andrews, or by Melville with Lino Ventura in the early 60s, but with all the bright Aussie locations and Down Under attitudes, MONEY MOVERS is very much its own movie.
That said, it's also very much Bruce Beresford's movie, and it serves as a reminder that this guy used to be a really good director some time ago. Well before he turned Hollywood, Beresford's Aussie films (and the fine TENDER MERCIES, his U.S. debut) had this natural quality to them that helped to define the Aussie cinema of the 70s that felt lived-in and felt organically Australian (the BARRY McKENZIE films excepted, of course). Many of these pictures were quiet, character-based stories about simple people whose problems Beresford was able to make seem enormously important and became intriguing because of that. MONEY MOVERS takes the same approach and it not only proves to be completely the right but also makes it unique for this genre; Making the characters all working class Aussies make them feel more human, easier to relate to and empathetic (for as much as thieves can be), and the lack of a score helps to add to the natural feeling and brings up the tension. At the same time, I'm also impressed by MONEY MOVERS as a thriller and in how respectful it is of the heist film genre. All of the usual trappings are there, but the feeling is fresh and unique.
Apparently, MONEY MOVERS was not a hit in Aussie cinemas back in '79 and its sole U.S. release was on VHS back in the early 80s, so it's ripe for a rediscovery and a re-evaluation. I'm gonna call Don over at Synapse and see what we can do.