Anchor Bay // 2009 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // December 16th, 2010
"Unless he pays the money, we will kill you. Any deviation from the plan, we will kill you. Any Police, we will kill you!" -- Vic
Writer/Director J. Blakeson's debut film garnered some considerable acclaim, as it made the festival rounds. Comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope were everywhere and, by all accounts, Blakeson had crafted a thriller worth checking out. Now that it's on Blu-ray, you can see for yourself.
Vic (Eddie Marsan, Sherlock Holmes) and Danny (Martin Compston, Doomsday) have a get rich quick scheme; kidnap Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton, Prince of Persia) and ransom her to her rich daddy. What follows is a harrowing chain of events full of twists and tension.
Right out of the gate, I'll tell you The Disappearance of Alice Creed is one hell of an unsettling watch; the majority of the film is stocked with all manner of unpleasantness played out against the lovely Ms. Arterton. She spends a great deal of the film tied and shackled to a bed, with a ball gag wedged between her teeth, in the most unappealing way imaginable. The cold and ruthless efficiency at which the abductors carry out their scheme is chilling, and her helplessness comes across strongly enough to really get under the skin. Indeed it's all about the performances, and Gemma sells her role for all it's worth. She's popped up as a pretty face in a few genre pictures, all but wasted in Clash of the Titans and Quantum of Solace, but here she proves there's more to her than a pretty face. If there's any justice in tinsel town, she'll have a bright future as a dramatic actress.
As the only other two actors in the film, there's a lot riding on our not-so gentlemanly kidnappers, and neither disappoints. Eddie Marsan in particular really knocks it out of the park as the planner/executor, Vic. Marsan spills over with menace; he's collected and calculating, vicious, and frightening when the script calls for it. Martin Compston, meanwhile, turns in a third riveting performance as the guy with a plan of his own, who might have bit off more than he can chew, and is generally stressed to the breaking point.
As if the minimalist cast and the two room setting didn't garner Rope comparisons, the screenplay certainly would, in slightly more subtle fashion. There's a definite Hitchcockian vibe in play, from the character turns to the staging, and right on down to the film's final scene. I won't go into detail on the plot, but suffice it to say you should really go in knowing as little as possible. Know that the direction is first rate and the actors all hit home runs with some pretty well-written material.
Anchor Bay's Blu-ray efforts are mighty fine for such a low budget production. The 1080p AVC image is crystal clear, showing off the fine detail of clothing, faces, and the surroundings. The color is vibrant and well contrasted. The disc's TrueHD audio track is enveloping, with a nice low end timbre that feels natural, and the great score by composer Marc Canham comes through perfectly in this excellent mix.
For extras, there are deleted scenes with commentary and some outtakes. It's not much and a feature commentary would have been nice, but it'll have to do.
While that first act moves along like a freight train of unpleasantness, things slow down to a crawl as we move into Act Two. Some of the happenings are designed to build tension, and there's a twist or two brought in to keep the audience on their toes; neither is as entirely effective as you'd like. Then the third act hits and another final twist, one that drives the "Oh Come on!" factor through the roof. It all smacks of just being too clever for its own good, stretching the film's narrative to the verge of snapping. It never quite snaps completely though, and overall you're left with a decent aftertaste.
While hardly a fun time at the movies, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a thoroughly effective little thriller with a few twists and more than enough grit to go around. Anchor Bay does a fine job with the Blu-ray.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes