Sydney, and the city's security vans are loading up with thousands upon thousands of dollars to transport to the banks around the area, it's a morning like any other for the service, but is the actual security in these vans all it is cracked up to be? This is called into question when one vehicle is stopped in a car park and a man who sells cheap meat approaches the driver; he knows him and asks if he has any beef steak, but no sooner has the seller wandered off than a gang wearing masks appear and beat up the guards, easily overpowering them. They are armed and dangerous, and after helping themselves to the loot one of them shoots dead the meat seller - no witnesses!
Was there ever a more cynical film about precisely how trustworthy those we put our trust in really are than director Bruce Beresford's Money Movers? Unfortunately, his best-known movie would probably be the comparatively sedate Driving Miss Daisy, one of the least liked Oscar-winning Best Pictures of all time, but he had a wide range and after watching this it is difficult to argue against his true calling as gritty thrillers like this. It was based on a book of the same name by Devon Minchin, the only novel he ever wrote, based on his time as the head of a security firm not unlike the one featured on the page, and indeed in the movie, so he knew what he was talking about.
Not that many Australians would be happy to learn their money was so vulnerable to the machinations of the nation's criminals, especially when many of said criminals were infiltrating the organisations responsible for supposedly keeping that moolah safe. Not only that, but there was always the possibility of one of the staff, or more, deciding the whole job was providing easy pickings for anyone who wanted to help themselves to all those banknotes, and the previously reliable security would be sabotaged by those double dealers. There, such were the characters we were presented with here, meant our sympathies were confused as a result - to say the least.
In fact, for a fairly long stretch of the running time it was hard to say who were the good guys and who were the bad guys, since nobody in this was entirely admirable, and some who started out apparently on the level would be revealed as nogoodniks later on, while others who would have your suspicions well and truly raised from the outset would turn out to be more decent than we anticipated. This disorienting style was a bold move, and it may have created a film that was difficult to get along with for too much of its narrative, but stick with it and you would see where Beresford was going: it paid dividends once it moved into its final act and at last we could see who was doing what to whom and why. Not that it made too many of them any the more likeable, but it smacked of authenticity throughout.
That said, once the violence erupted the film was obviously in its element, virtually rubbing its hands together with ill-disguised glee at every bloody gunshot wound and the chance to have a fatally injured character cough up the red stuff in spurts. With some good reason Money Movers was regarded as among the most bloodthirsty of the Ozploitation boom of the nineteen-seventies, which was saying something considering much of the competition, though this escaped some of the consignment as trash of its contemporaries thanks to a seriousness of intent that had it treated respectfully by the critical establishment. Don't be fooled, though, with the requisite nudity and such scenes as a toe being cut off to make sure the thieves include a Mr Big (Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, usually such a nice man) in their plans, this was an exploitation flick at heart, and all the better for it. If it was confusing, that need not be a drawback by the conclusion. Cool theme music, too (a library cue?).