Most of us know all about this, don’t we?  Well, some of us.   In greenlighting this 10-episode series the TNT guys calculated, of course, that 97% of the viewing public never heard of the 2010 Australian original feature, much less saw it. Shawn Hatosy has the Ben Mendelsohn role. Two off-the-top differences: (a) Ellen Barkin is a formidable actress and still a serious MILF while Jacki Weaver, who played Barkin’s role in the original, is a respected Australian actress, and (b) the family, now located somewhere in SoCal, is into robberies and not drugs. 

Excerpts from my 2010 review of David Michod’s Animal Kingdom: “You never actually see any of the Cody brothers, a Melbourne-based crime family, commit any money-making (or money-stealing) crimes. Court testimony that has everyone on pins and needles for a good portion of the film is never heard. Bang-bang stuff happens, but infrequently and very quickly and is never milked for maximum cinematic impact.

“It’s mostly about paranoia leading to poisoning, but it’s also about the things you’re expecting to see never quite happening as you might expect.

“The Cody gang members are played by Ben Mendelsohn (as Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody), Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford (as Darren Cody), Sullivan Stapleton (as Craig Cody) and the heavy-lidded, not-especially-bright-looking James Frecheville (as the kid of the family, Joshua Cody).

“But the scariest of the bunch is Jacki Weaver‘s Janine Cody, a Lady Macbeth with serpent claws and a lizard tongue flicking in and out of her mouth.

“It’s roughly similar to Jamie Foley‘s At Close Range. But it delivers its own kind of creepy Australian undercurrent. There’s never a moment when you don’t sense an uh-oh feeling outside the door or around the corner. The brewing and churning of sudden gunshots, suffocations, betrayals, etc.

Animal Kingdom is mainly a dialogue movie interwoven with short violent bursts rather than vice versa, but it feels anxious and unsettling every step of the way. The Codys don’t act or look the part but you can’t help but believe — trust — that they’re quite dangerous when push comes to shove, or when they slip into a foul mood.

“My only hang-up is with Frecheville‘s too-subdued performance as the young lead; to me it suggests either retardation or a lithium overdose.”