Inspired in part by Melbourne's 1988 Walsh Street murders, Animal Kingdom is a story about the battle between Melbourne's underworld and the police. The story tracks seventeen-year-old Joshua 'J' Cody, a troubled teenager perilously caught between his own criminal family and Detective Leckie, a compromised cop who thinks that he can save 'J'. 'J' comes to realise that in order to survive, he must determine how the game is played. This involves not only writing his own rule book but also choosing his place in the cunning and brutal animal kingdom in which his family lives.
'The story follows 17-year-old Joshua "J" Cody, who moves in with his wild, freewheeling relatives. As he is pulled into their life of indulgence and excess, he discovers it is being funded by criminal activities.'
Source: 'Ellen Barkin & Scott Speedman to Star in TNT’s "Animal Kingdom"', Variety, 29 July 2015.
Australian cinema has a long history of depicting violent men: from Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971), Mad Dog Morgan (Philippe Mora, 1976) and Mad Max (George Miller, 1979) in the 1970s, Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright, 1992), Blackrock (Steven Vidler, 1997) and The Boys (Rowan Woods, 1998) in the 1990s, to Wolf Creek (Greg McLean, 2005) and Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011) in the 2000s. Throughout this period, Australian cinema has paid exclusive attention to men’s violence: vigilantes, petty criminals and troubled young men in the suburbs. Felicity Holland and Jane O’Sullivan declare that these ‘lethal larrikin’ films are in discussion with concepts of Australian masculinity, ‘questioning and subverting a number of almost iconic assumptions about power, powerlessness, and violence in Australian masculine culture’ (79). In recent years, however, there has been a small but impactful cluster of films that show women acting violently, too. Suburban Mayhem (Paul Goldman, 2006), Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2011) and Hounds of Love (Ben Young, 2016) all contain female characters who exhibit intensely violent behaviour, committing (or conspiring to commit) acts of homicide and murder. While critics have examined men’s brutality extensively, Australian women’s aggression has not been considered in the same way (Butterss; Heller-Nicholas; Holland and O’Sullivan; O’Brien; Villella). Female violence in Australian cinema is a new and unanswered question. (Introduction)
'When you're basing 10 episodes or more of television on a stand-alone two-hour movie, it might be best to heed the lesson of Fargo: Throw out the whole story and start over.'
'Animal Kingdom, the new TNT series based on the 2010 Australian movie about a Melbourne crime family, goes the opposite route. ...'