The Stranger | Third Space

The Stranger

Based on Kate Kyriacou's book, The Sting
Thu 6 Oct 2022

4 out of 5 stars

Inspired by the book The Sting written by Kate Kyriacou about Australia's most sensational undercover bust of kidnapper, murderer, and pedophile Brett Peter Cowan. Joel Edgerton (Thirteen Lives) did all he could to get this story to cinemas and committed himself to the hellacious task of playing the lead detective. Despite the difficulties and delays of COVID, he and the writer/director Thomas M. Wright tell the gritty and psychologically intense tale of bringing this criminal to justice. Most names were changed for the film, but the story remains faithful to the original transcripts.

Things unfold as Mark (Edgerton), the undercover detective, manages to befriend Henry Teague (Sean Harris). He was a reclusive man who had been a suspect in the abduction of a Queensland schoolboy, but no evidence was found to tie him to the crime. Law enforcement worked together to develop a sting operation that would provide Mark with the means of getting information from his new friend. An effort that found its way through multiple states took years to develop until they convinced the pedophile to confess to the crime and lead them to the location of the body.

With material that will prove to be too confronting for mainstream audiences, Wright does a brilliant job of keeping the viewer off balance throughout this psychological thriller. The director deconstructs the timelines and keeps all those watching close enough to feel the tension. In contrast, he develops a discombobulating atmosphere for all involved while keeping everyone far enough away to leave them guessing. This eerie and raw atmosphere is complemented by the disturbing relationship between both lead actors. Edgerton and Harris immerse themselves in the characters that become so convincing that many may not be able to look at Sean Harris in the same way after watching the film.

Those unfamiliar with the original case may wonder if this whole thing happened in how it unfolds on screen. While the names were changed and some elements needed to be edited for dramatic effect, most of the film stays true to the operation as it unfolded in Australia. This level of commitment to apprehend this perpetrator should make the general populace appreciate law enforcement. They show that many things can and do go wrong in these efforts, but they often lead to the apprehension of many criminals.

The Stranger will be brutal for anyone to watch who has an appreciation for human life. Yet, this psychological mystery was superbly crafted and should be on the watchlist for those who love to delve deep into the dark recesses of humanity.

The word becomes film

Russ Matthews' new book is a modern-day parable that introduces a radically easy way of talking about God’s story

If you order the book today you will also receive a complementary study guide that is only available with the purchase of the book (Print or ebook)

REEL DIALOGUE: The world is broken

As one watches The Stranger, it is like seeing an object lesson in the depravity of creation. Two questions that need to be asked in light of this film are what is God doing about this mess? Alongside this question is whether there is any hope for this broken world. These are two monumental questions for the ages. Not to be trite or too minimalistic, but the answer to these questions can be found in the person of Jesus.

Not that it is a simple answer, and even after studying it out, the world will remain broken for some time. Still, the answer does find hope and solutions in the life and death of the man that many call Christ. Pick up one of the accounts of his life and see how God answers this multi-layered query with one man.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33