Transfusion Poster

Transfusion (2023) Review

Transfusion opens somewhere in the Middle East as an Australian special forces unit infiltrates an enemy bunker. The mission is going according to plan until suddenly it isn’t and Ryan Logan (Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation, 9 Bullets) takes a bullet in the neck. Back in Australia, tragedy strikes again when his wife Justine (Phoebe Tonkin, Tomorrow, When the War Began, Bait), pregnant with what would have been their second child, is killed in a car accident leaving him to raise their son Billy ( Gilbert Bradman, The Twelve, Alphabet Street) alone.

Jumping forward seven years Billy (Edward Carmody) is now sixteen and has had as many brushes with the law as his father has had jobs since leaving the Army. Facing the prospect of losing custody of Billy he moves them back to his hometown, hoping to turn things around.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t help matters, and, needing money for his son, Ryan turns to Johnny (Matt Nable, Hacksaw Ridge, Poker Face) his former superior officer now turned criminal to make some quick money. This sets off a chain of events that threatens to destroy everyone involved.

Billed as a crime thriller Transfusion is much more of a grim drama with the Australian underworld serving as a backdrop. This is by no means an action-oriented film, and even the thriller element takes something of a backseat to the characters’ issues.

In the case of Ryan, those issues are laid on thick. He came back from the battlefield with PTSD and then lost his wife and unborn child, leaving him to try and function as a single parent while barely being functional at all. As a result, they’ve moved constantly from city to city, something that probably hasn’t helped Billy.

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In Billy’s case the Transfusion’s script gives us little to go on as to what has set him on the course he’s on. There are some clues dropped in an early scene of father and son out hunting. Like the viewer Ryan doesn’t know the cause of it either and struggles to find a way to connect with his son. As the film goes on and Billy’s behaviour worsens it only serves to drag Ryan deeper into the underworld, which brings more problems to the table.

It’s this cycle that drives Transfusion’s narrative until, bringing matters around in something of a circle, Billy drunkenly wrecks a car and is blackmailed by his friend’s father. This forces Ryan to take desperate measures that spin out of control in a deadly firefight.

The film does eventually give the viewer the information they need to put the pieces together and figure out what brought the leads to where they were at the film’s start but it does it at a painfully slow pace. They’re teased out, hidden among the film’s many flashbacks. By the time you have enough information to understand the whats and whys of it, Transfusion is almost over meaning for much of the film some important things don’t make sense.

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Transfusion ends on a note that builds on these revelations, raising the specter of a twisted sense of masculinity in its final minutes. Unfortunately, that idea is left half-developed at best. There’s still a rather chilling note to the final scene when you think it through but that aspect of it should have been either fleshed out or discarded to concentrate on Ryan’s PTSD and its effects on the situation.

While, as noted, the film is low on the action the three scenes we do get are well done. However, if you’re going into Transfusion looking for action it probably won’t be enough to satisfy you. Those looking for a thriller with a heavy dose of drama, or vice versa, should have a better time.

Transfusion has been released in Australia, Germany, and France. Saban Films will release it to US theaters as well as VOD and Digital platforms on March 3rd. If your watch list needs some new blood, FilmTagger can offer some new titles for it.

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