Stuck In A Rut

A kidnapping plot goes sour...as does the script of this badly-written film.

The title quite aptly describes the feeling one gets half-way through this film. It begins with a clever piece of camerawork showing smoked images of a couple in a car. That’s when you assume this is a going to be a good watch. But then the story begins...

Joe Hickley (Kevin Bacon) earns a decent income kidnapping rich kids, who he holds hostage while ensuring a sizeable ransom is delivered in cash. He says it’s a foolproof plan because the parents know that Joe will kill their kid if they report him to the cops. It’s a foolproof plan because Joe works with his wife, Cheryl Hickley (Courtney Love), who occupies the kidnapped kid’s father, cousin Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who chaperones the kid, and Joe, who keeps the frantic mommy company. They know it’s foolproof because it’s worked the last four times.

The fifth time is when they confront the Jennings. Karen (Charlize Theron) and Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend) have an asthmatic daughter, and they won’t wait to get her back. In a reversal of roles the captors become the victims of emotional blackmail, and one learns that the Hickleys have a more grievous motive for kidnapping than petty ransom.

This one is a waste of good talent, and even Bacon and Theron can’t distract you from the dismal script, which just seems to get more ludicrous by the turn of frame. Appropriating the beauty of splendid backdrops is an attempt to line the sinister with the scenic, an effort that makes the picture look pretty without making sense. Director Luis Mandoki has evoked the requisite alarm and suspense essential to a film of the thriller genre, but even a skilled director cannot inject rationale and credibility to a skewed script.

This article was first published on 30 Nov 2002.