Review: ‘Halifax – Retribution’

John Thomas

The population of five million persons in Melbourne, Australia is being held hostage by an unidentified gunman. Not only is the sniper’s identity a mystery but the reasons for his attacks, the victims chosen and the times and places selected remain unknown. After four deaths, all of this remains unanswered. Dr. Jane Halifax (Rebecca Gibney), a noted forensic psychiatrist, had once worked for the police department in Melbourne. She left the department to pursue a career in education but has been called back to investigate these random shootings. Tom Saracen (Anthony La Paglia), who worked with her prior to moving to the United States, has returned to Australia to lead the investigation. He and Jane work well together.

In their initial investigations, the only conclusions the police have arrived at are, the sniper is highly organized and a crack shot. He leaves no traces behind to indicate his presence and can accurately hit targets from great distances.

One other skill he has perfected is hacking into the internet. The highest ranking law officer in Melbourne is sitting in the back seat of her car when the windshield wipers suddenly come on and the vehicle speeds up – her chauffeur is unable to control the car. When the car finally screeches to a halt, the woman runs screaming into the middle of a large empty intersection – a perfect target.

A manifesto posted by the sniper eventually appears on huge TV monitors throughout the city including police headquarters where the investigators stand in rapt attention. The message warns the population of dire consequences if they don’t pay attention to their diminishing freedoms and the dominance of “big money” in all branches of government and civil life. The people must take action or someone else will.

One member of the police force does pay attention and recalls a similar manifesto outlined by a radical group of students at a university some years past. A photo of the group is included with the demands they posted. The police finally have some leads with which to work.

Following the ninth murder, Tom and Jane attempt establishing communication with the sniper. With her background in psychology, she is the perfect person to speak with him.

Jane is interviewed on a local TV talk show – luckily seen by the sniper. Shortly thereafter he telephones her. Jane tries to manipulate the conversation toward answers to questions she and her staff have.

He is cognizant of this but first needs to have his objectives understood, so he humors her along. Making some headway with the conversation, she suggests a face-to-face meeting. Over several subsequent telephone conversations, the sniper finally agrees to meet with her in person.

Their first meeting is interrupted by an innocent bystander and provides her with no new insights. Following telephone communications between Jane and the sniper provide the police with desperately needed information. It is at their next face-to-face meeting that things take a baleful turn – he appears in front of her with a ticking timer strapped to his wrist.

This is a “should see” Australian TV program because it’s well acted, has an intriguing plot set in imposing locations around Melbourne. The directors and cast convincingly tell the story.


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