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Director Ivan Sen’s 2013 ABC telemovie Mystery Road was so impressive it ended up getting a cinema run, and this direct-to-cinemas sequel is even better. Aaron Petersen returns as detective Jay Swan, a year or so older and a whole lot rougher around the edges – in fact, when we meet him he’s being pulled over by local cop Josh (Alex Russell) for drunk driving down a barren outback road leading into the mining town (if you can call it that – literally all the building are demountables) of Goldstone.

Swan’s a wreck after the death of his daughter, but he’s still up to the task of tracking down a missing person – a job that none of the town’s powerbrokers (David Wenham’s mining boss, Jackie Weaver’s cake-baking mayor) want him to finish. The plot is a fairly traditional film noir, but it’s told with skill and a sharp eye for detail that really establishes Goldstone as a dodgy boom town. The indigenous locals have a part to play too, and the way their understanding of the area overlaps with the miners’ purely business approach (to everything) gives the straightforward crime mystery real depth. The result is standout Australian film-making: here’s hoping this is a series that runs and runs.

Reviewed by Anthony Morris