Monday, August 30, 2010

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

At a glance:
A straightforward and brutal kidnapping gets much more complicated and deadly as hidden relationships are revealed

Our review (with spoilers):
Two seemingly cold-blooded hoods carefully plan and execute a hostage for ransom plan. They are brutal but business-like. These are not sadists, in it for the thrills. They are merely there for the monetary reward, but that doesn’t diminish the stomach-churning effect of watching their machinations. But this is much more than a straightforward story of hostage-taking; there are hidden relationships here that, before long, will complicate matters greatly.

Danny and Vic certainly seem to have coldly imprisoned a stranger named Alice, chosen only because her rich father is deemed to be ransom worthy. But when Alice grabs Danny’s gun during a bathroom break, Danny reveals to her that behind the mask is her boyfriend. Yes, he did brutally kidnap her, but that was only so that her video plea to her dad to pay the ransom would be completely sincere. Danny’s plan is to double-cross Vic, take all the money, and run off with Alice. But Alice’s reaction is anger at being brutalized and kept in the dark about the plan. When the opportunity arises, she turns the tables on Danny, hand-cuffing him to the bed. The tables turn a few more times, and more about Danny and Vic’s relationship is revealed, so that you start to wonder just who Danny owes his allegiance to.

Director J. Blakeson tells the story with dead seriousness. This isn’t some stylized Tarantino clone. There’s not a shred of humor to lighten the upsetting events. Yet it isn’t torture porn either. It’s a reality reveal of how a crime is conducted and how humans are inevitable and deeply flawed.

Some of you who know me and my reviews will remember that I have a low tolerance for violence in general and torture in particular. Nonetheless, I thought that this film had such strong emotional lynchpins that the torture, though difficult to watch, was worth it, because what happened to Alice was part of a more important story.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Plenty of movies have covered the same terrain as this British kidnapping thriller, but few in recent memory with as streamlined a sense of tension-soaked purpose and commitment to character-driven minimalism."
- Brent Simon (Shared Darkness)

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