Based on a true story that all started in Queensland, Australia, Henry (Sean Harris) is a man exhausted by his life and haunted by his past crimes. Travelling by bus, Henry meets a man named Paul (Steve Mouzakis) and the two strike up a conversation, leading to a new friendship. Paul invites Henry into a secret world of crime and partners him up with Mark (Joel Edgerton). Now, the two will work on small jobs that pay large sums of cash- the perfect opportunity for Henry to start fresh and say goodbye to his old life.
However, as Henry and Mark continue to work together, audiences soon discover everything isn’t what it seems. Behind the scenes, the police are conducting a huge operation to obtain proof about a child abduction. Can the undercover officers get enough proof and obtain the ultimate unsettling confession?
The Stranger is a drama and a crime story focusing on one of Australia’s biggest police operations in history. As you may have figured out, it relates to the real-life Daniel Morcombe case, which occurred in 2003. At its core, the film’s primary focus is the lengthy and tense police operation that occurred to find the truth and the man responsible for horrific crimes. Naturally, the topics and themes on display are deeply unsettling and tense, and viewers are guaranteed to sit on the edge of their seats for most of the duration. Everything on-screen feels real and highly raw, like a ticking clock waiting to siren off, with a haunting atmosphere.
Actors Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris are flawless and outstanding from start to finish in their roles. Both actors successfully display characters that feel convincing and believable, along with creating heart, tension, and drama. There are many details to this story I never knew about and some portions of the story I was fully aware of. Although I knew some facts already, I was fully engaged with this story, as if the details were all fresh and new to me. The extreme level of mystery and drama only caused my investment to keep growing.
Like its story, the atmosphere of The Stranger is also highly unsettling. I found myself breathing more heavily than normal on multiple occasions, not sure what would occur next. Even when nothing specific is occurring, viewers are kept on the edge of their seats due to the use of sound effects and daunting instrumental numbers that are present throughout. Visually, there’s stunning creativity thanks to director Thomas M. Wright, which, combined with the added on-screen drama, makes the entire runtime an unforgettable cinematic journey.
Overall, filled with flawless and impressive performances from both Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris, The Stranger is deeply unsettling, dramatic, and highly enjoyable, especially for those who love a crime story based on true events within Australia. The dramatic story creates on-screen tension and drama, especially when combined with a haunting soundtrack and daunting sound effects. In my opinion, this film doesn’t have flaws or faults, even in its storytelling or pace, and thankfully, there’s a level of respect towards the Morcombe case here. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen—highly recommended whether you know the entirely true story or not.