A film with only three actors, four locations, a first time director and a budget that wouldn’t cover the catering for a major movie needs to have everything going its way just to make an impression in the crowded market place that is the modern world of cinema. This has everything and more.
The film opens with two men, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) meticulously setting up a job. They purchase tools and materials and proceed to securely set up an apartment with sound proofing, boarded up windows and a bed with restraints. Once complete they steal a van and set about starting their scheme, namely abducting a girl, Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton). It all goes to plan with Alice stripped, photographed re-clothed, gagged and restrained on the bed. Initial demands are made to Alice’s father and to back it up Alice is forced to make a video at knife point emphasising how much danger she is in. Everything is going too well. The exchange for £2 million is arranged and it looks like the duo may get away with it. Tensions are running high and tempers are short. It is only a matter of time before they either make a mistake or something happens to totally change the dynamic of the situation.
This is a totally absorbing film. The first five minutes features the abduction room set up. There is no dialogue at all. Every task is carried out methodically and with precision. They have obviously planned well and work well together. It takes a certain understanding to have that level of non-verbal communication. The two men spent time together in prison and the familiarity that comes from that is seen here. After the first words are spoken there is another couple of minutes before the audience has any real dialogue to engage with. It is a bold move by the film makers and in the wrong hands could alienate the audience in the first ten minutes. The strength of the story makes sure that you want to know what is going on and more importantly, what is going to happen next.
With only three actors on-screen for the entire running time there is nowhere for anyone to hide or to bring a weak, underdeveloped performance. Fortunately this does not happen here. The blend of the actors strengths and their ability to interact with each other in different circumstances and with different emotions is superb. I will avoid discussing too much more as that will give away certain elements of the film that should really be experienced without previous knowledge.
This is the work of first time feature director J Blakeson. What he achieved with as a writer and director on a limited budget is incredible. It is no wonder that he was named as one of the 10 directors to watch in 2010.
Overall a terrific film. Excellent performance coupled with a very well-directed story. Highly recommended.