This is an extremely late review; it was hard to muster enthusiasm for the latest, unexceptional chapter in the Underbelly story. Like every Underbelly, it examines the criminal history of Australia, focusing on a particular time and place; Squizzy concerns its titular character, an up-and-coming pickpocket in 1920s Melbourne. Like every Underbelly, there’s that awful theme music; a plotline involving nasty but surprisingly attractive criminal elements posturing for position as the earnest police force hunts them down; and a pointless voiceover, pandering to the lowest common denominator and constantly foreshadowing future events, sapping any narrative tension.
Underbelly usually has a glimmer of brightness, showcasing budding Australian talent: gold dust sparkling in the dirt. There’s no evidence of that in Squizzy. Jared Daperis plays “Squizzy” without authority or charm, demonstrating little more than an ability to look nice and execute a mediocre Sam Johnson impression. The directing is cringeworthy, whether it’s accompanying whip pans with a “whoosh” or cutting from an unfortunate occurrence to an actual house of fucking cards falling over. The script is similarly dire, full of events but never feeling eventful, and not even bothering to jazz things up with the Underbelly mainstays of gratuitous violence and nudity.