Continental Divide

Part of a brief trend of Oz-sploitation films that included Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max, Quigley Down Under adapts the American west for Australia, turning into an indictment on the nation’s violent past. The setting changes. The theme does not.

Matthew Quigely (Tom Selleck) represent the accidental western hero, the unexpected gunslinger who takes up a righteous cause in a new land – assisting the Aborigine people who are slaughtered by a wealthy local (Alan Rickman). Sharpshooter Quigley begins his defense out of spite, tossing Elliot Marston (Rickman) from his Marston’s own window.

Quigley isn’t a complicated man because Quigley Down Under isn’t a complicated film

Quigley isn’t a complicated man because Quigley Down Under isn’t a complicated film. That’s its downfall, taking distressing real world history and wrapping it in a cozy, safe blanket. It’s often a fun piece of fish-out-of-water entertainment, then blindsided by the moral causes Quigley encounters. He’s right because he’s an ethical killer; Marston is wrong for his greed and willingness to kill to better position himself.

Building a romance, Quigley connects to a seemingly crazed woman Cora (Laura San Giacomo) whose own history with natives sparks the film’s emotional core, but likewise feels forced as she contends with Australia’s wilds while facing her personal tragedy. Quigley and Cora connect because they’re the same person – both experienced an ugly past, both share the same willingness to forgive, and the same willingness to fight.

For all of their inner turmoil though, Quigley Down Under follows a worn, tired path. It ends on a dusty shootout and illogical stand-off. Sloppy, direct foreshadowing plays too key a role as a plot device. Luckily, Quigley Down Under is afforded some luxuries. The cast, Selleck and Rickman in particular, are sensational. There’s also the score from Basil Poledouris that’s as catchy as it is memorable and appropriate.

Credit is due for casting Aborigine people, even if their purpose in the story is to serve the core conflict. They’re less defined than they are story decoration, although bringing the sides together in mutual respect does elicit an emotional response by the finale. In particular, Marston’s servant grandly rips off his shirt to wander into the desert to join his people in a final, captivating touch. Quigley’s a typical western hero, mythical even. Saying the same for any on-screen Aborigine is rare.

Video

A beautiful, even flawless 4K master greets viewers of Quigley Down Under, generating the type of detail demanded of this format. It’s crystalline sharp at its best, with haziness introduced by the cinematography alone. Grain maintains a consistent thickness and clarity.

Nightfall brings black levels at their best, rich, thick, and dense. A spark under the Australian sun brings a rich glaze to the imagery. Sweaty skin, gorgeous landscapes, and other sources reflect the intense overhead light.

Primary colors shine too, invigorating flesh tones with a natural warmth. Primaries have a zip to them, bright and vibrant throughout. The various landscapes show remarkable variety, whether dry grassland or a strip of greenery. A hotel fire brings some dazzling oranges (and spectacular peak brightness).

Audio

DTS-HD stereo powers this one, a perfect accompaniment with a wide channel split. Cattle rattles in various speakers, and Australia’s natural sounds bounce between the available speakers.

Flawless fidelity resolves dialog clearly, but the real beneficiary is Basil Poledouris’ score. It’s booming, bright, clear, and properly intense.

Extras

Bonuses reside on the Blu-ray. The disc opens with an interview of Laura San Giacomo. A deep dive into the Sharps rifle and its history follows. An older featurette and trailers remain.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Quigley Down Under
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

While let down by predictable and cliche story beats, Quigley Down Under remains an easy, enjoyable watch.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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