Adapted from a bestselling young adult novel by John Marsden, this Australian action drama falls awkwardly between two stools.
Caitlin Stasey leads the cast as a feisty 17-year-old who gathers a bunch of mates for a two-day camping trip upriver. On returning to their hometown, Wirrawee, they find their homes abandoned and their families in an enemy internment camp. Do they flee the place or stay and fight? Where the book left the nature of the enemy to the reader's imagination, the film puts a face to them – an Asian face, which begs quite a few questions. Directed by the first-timer Stuart Beattie (he collaborated on the Pirates of the Caribbean films), the film is poorly conceived, and neither sufficiently well acted to offer insight into these traumatised teens nor realistically scaled to convince us of the country's upheaval. It might have worked as a daytime children's TV serial, but as a stand-alone thriller it lacks clout and moral seriousness.