- Movie Rating -

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

| April 9, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Disappearance of Alice Creed opens with scary and cold efficiency. Two men stridently go about a mission that isn’t immediately clear. They line the back of their van with plastic, then go shopping for a drill, a mattress and other tools that, for a while give indications that they are building a house – or maybe a bathroom like the one in ‘Saw’. They enter a small flat where they assemble a bed that they nail to the floor and then add padding to the walls. They also kidnap a young girl and drag her kicking and screaming to the flat and tie her securely to that bed.

The girl, Alice (Gemma Arterton), is told that she’s being held for ransom. They want money from her father and she will remain there until they get it. Those scenes have a cold, hard, frightening pace. It all happens very quickly. It is clear that the two men, Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan), have worked this plan out piece by piece. For a while, they remain within the perimeters of their plan, keeping their faces covered when in the presence of Alice and never giving their names. Vic, the leader, has such an eye for detail that he is even able to spot when his partner is thinking too much.

Those opening scenes are actually the best part of the movie and if it had remained at that pace, the movie might have really worked. But then the movie employs a silly cat and mouse game that never flow naturally from the story, but rather just feel written. Alice turns out to have a connection with one of the kidnappers, the kidnappers turn out to have a different connection with each other, and all three characters are so unwritten and unappealing that we just don’t care.

The other problem is that there is no consistency within the characters. Early on, Vic is established as a man who has honed his skill for detail down to a science, but there are things that, give those skills, should be blindingly obvious. Danny turns out to have less of a cold heart than we are led to believe, and he has a motive for getting involved in the kidnapping that seems a little more complicated than it needs to be.

Gemma Arterton, one of my favorite young actors, gets the humiliating role of Alice whose early scenes, tied to a bed with a ball-gag in her mouth, are difficult to watch. That’s bad enough, but director J. Blakeson wallows in leering shots of her naked body tied to that bed like a pervert enjoying his camera. It is uncomfortable. In fact, The whole movie is grimy like that. It moves back and forth between attempts at realism and buckets of red herrings. There are surprises that crop up from time to time but it is all a sticky, nasty little con game. When we arrive at the conclusion after one character has one-upped the other and vice versa over and over and over and over again, the screenplay has manipulated itself into oblivion.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.