2003

A Colin Friels telemovie shows you can’t keep a good cop down. By Gerri Sutton

Ten’s support of the telemovie comes up trumps with BIack Jack (8.30 PM, Sun., March 16; Ch 10). Colin Friels puts his brand on the character of veteran cop Jack Kempson, a made-to-measure role that gives Friels a stretch from white-hot anger to the bemused, soulful loner he can turn into an art form.

He’s a scene-stealer, but there are lively challenges from Kate Beahan as a smart young constable, David Field as a police inspector at one with the brotherhood and Melissa Jaffer as the mother of a child who has been missing for 30 years.

In a case reminiscent of that of Sydney schoolboy Graeme Thorne, who was kidnapped in l960 and killed after his parents won the lottery, the boy in Black Jack disappeared after a similar win. Kempson becomes interested in the case by chance.

Having turned whistleblower on a drug-dealing cop, he’s frosted by his colleagues and moved to a basement job transferring old records to a database. For Jack, old clues are new again, thanks to modern technology.

That’s the basic story, but this film has multiple layers. There’s the element in a police culture that believes in “noble cause corruption” the emptiness of a family whose child never came home and Jack’s burden over his disabled daughter (Gigi Edgley), who is broken when his enemies reveal the truth about her mother’s death.

Black lack looks gritty and unadorned, with teasing fragments favoured over flashbacks, and the interesting writing team of Gary McCaffrie and the ubiquitous Shaun Micallef delivers pithy dialogue. A crackerjack film-and an occasional series, perhaps? B+