Australian director Peter Weir is a genuine master of the portentous. As he proved with Picnic at Hanging Rock and Dead Poets Society, he can set a moody scene, tease with fascinating visuals — and pay off with little. The Last Wave, full of sound and fury, does his technique proud, but in the end it signifies…very little.
Richard Chamberlain plays a lawyer more used to the ins and outs of corporate taxes than the mysteries of aboriginal culture. When he takes on a case that may or may not be ritual murder of an aborigine, however, he finds his sympathies go deep, all the way to his dreams. They lead him to an ancient netherworld far below the streets of modern Sydney. Although the transfer to tape constrains the weird atmospheric effects — and muddies to the point of eyestrain some gradations of darkness — there are still plenty of downright scary turns. Unfortunately, as the suspense builds, so does the hooey. C+