A kidnapping turns prickly in the Down Under neo-noir "Cactus."
A kidnapping turns prickly in the Down Under neo-noir “Cactus.” Exec produced by thesp Bryan Brown, this yarn about an amateur kidnapper taking a loudmouth hostage on a long drive to an unknown destination feels like a padded-out episode from the thesp’s Oz tube series “Twisted Tales,” an O. Henry-style anthology. May 1 release looks to wither locally but may bloom in ancillary.After being attacked one night, professional gambler Eli Jones (David Lyons) wakes up bound and gagged in the back of a car traveling through the Australian desert. At the wheel is troubled kidnapper John Kelly (Travis McMahon) who, for the sake of conversational interplay between the two, ungags his underhanded abductee. Onetime camera assistant Jasmine Yuen-Carrucan (“Kill Bill,” “Mongol”) leapfrogs into the director’s chair with confidence; but her flawed, lightweight script betrays inexperience behind a keyboard, with main thesps struggling to sustain dramatic momentum amid their inadequate dialogue. Brown contributes an amusing turn as a small-town sheriff, but Shane Jacobson (“Kenny”) is wasted in a thankless cameo. Low-budget concept (two characters, one car, one desert) gets the most from the economical production values; tech credits are impressive.