Catching Milat is a 2015 television mini-series, which spans two episodes. The series focuses on the real life story of Ivan Milat (Malcolm Kennar), Australian’s most notorious serial killer. Although initially familiar with the backpacker killer, the series offers a new take on the killer’s capture and explores the struggle of the Task Force Air detectives, who attempted to bring him to justice.
The series brings together many familiar faces, including Richard Cawthorne, Geoff Morrell, Malcolm Kennard, David Field, Luke Ford, and Craig Hall. Of course, the majority of these actors take a backseat to three main characters, Detective Paul Gordon (Richard Cawthorne), Superintendent Clive Small (Geoff Morrell), and Milat. Although the two former work in conjunction to try and unravel the murder case, it is truly Gordon, who puts in the most effort and takes the majority of the risks. Superintendent Small attempts to follow the books and refuses to veer off course, even if it means getting the task force closer to the killer’s identity.
In fact, Small and Gordon wind up clashing repeatedly. Their relationship and Paul Gordon’s struggle to be accepted and heard within the force truly drives the story and helps to deliver a new take on the tale of Ivan Milat’s capture. So, how is the series? There is truly an abundance to like about Catching Milat. First and foremost, Malcolm Kennard is truly brilliant, gripping and at times comical, as Milat. He really knows when to turn it on and creep out the viewer. Geoff Morrell is great as the Superintendent and will quickly become a character that you’ll love to hate. Richard Cawthorne does a fabulous job portraying the frequently overlooked Detective, as he single-handedly works to solve the murder, while most of his co-workers scoff at his efforts.
Salvatore Coco, Luke Ford and David Field are all excellent additions. At times, I thought I was once again watching Killing Time, Underbelly or Wild Boys. Suffice to say, the Seven Network didn’t hold anything back in terms of casting. Each role is fulfilled perfectly and this only adds to the brilliance of Catching Milat. The series definitely focuses on Milat and his capture. While these scenes are definitely gripping, the most compelling aspect of all might be Paul Gordon’s struggle.
Whether or not the real-life Gordon was as credible and reliable as our fictional representation matters very little, the damage has already been done. Ivan Milat could’ve indeed been caught many years, before his brutal spree grabbed international headlines, as is often the case with other high-profile murderers, as well. There is no doubt that the series does an excellent job making Gordon a very sympathetic character. Whether or not the claim is true, the series is very impactful in this regard.
All in all, Catching Milat is a great crime drama. It shows just how good Australian television can truly be. The mini-series deserves an 8.5 out of 10. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking out this series!