Home > Crime, Drama, Suspense, Thriller > The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

Okay, so there’s these two guys, right? They’re both just out of prison, and they’ve got this plan to get a whole pile of dosh and start a new life somewhere else by kidnapping this girl and ransoming her for 2 million pounds.

Guess what? You just met the entire cast.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a taut, minimalist British thriller written and directed by J. Blakeson, starring Gemma “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” Arterton, Eddie “Sherlock Holmes” Marsan, and Martin “Doomsday” Compston. Set almost entirely on three or four sets, Alice Creed manages to take a basic kidnapping plot, drill it down to its most basic elements, and rebuild it into something new.

The movie drops up right into the story, with two guys stocking up on supplies from a hardware store and outfitting an apartment to imprison their intended victim. There is no dialogue at all in the first ten minutes or so, not even when, clad in ski masks they bring in a screaming, struggling woman, tie her to the bed, cut off her clothing, and take pics of her with a digital camera to send off. It is only after this brief intro (which in a more innocent time might resemble the opening of a particularly gritty Columbo movie) that we learn that the men are Vic (Marsan) and Danny (Compston), and their kidnapping victim is one Alice Creed (Arterton), the heiress of a stupidly rich family. Vic quickly establishes himself as the dominant one in this partnership, but as the movie goes on we see that this plot will be anything but a vanilla kidnapping story.

With three people in a small set, this movie has plenty of opportunities to establish the complex web of relationships, both pre-existing and newly developing due to the situation. See, Danny already knew Alice. They used to date. He thought she’d be okay with getting kidnapped because she hated her dad. He tells her that he will double-cross Vic and he and Alice will bugger off somewhere with the money. Problem: Danny also knows Vic. They’d met in prison and became gay lovers (any port in a storm, it seems), a relationship that apparently continues throughout the scheme. Vic doesn’t know that Danny knows Alice – which raises the question of whether Danny is cheating on Alice with Vic or if Danny is cheating on Vic with Alice. As the web of lies and counter-lies builds, and a chain of betrayals and counter-betrayals becomes more and more imminent, more and more questions come up until the audience is left unsure of who will escape from whom, or if any of them will be left alive to collect the ransom, let alone spend it.

I will admit that I got this movie more or less randomly out of a Redbox machine because I was in the mood for something suspenseful and thrilling – and it mostly delivered. It is hard to build a unique kidnapping plot anymore without just taking the basic premise and just changing the details, but by taking a different approach and largely ignoring the “cavalry” end of it, Alice managed to explore a tired plot in a new way.

Between the three characters, it was nearly impossible to pick out a “hero”; the gray and gray morality inherent in the betrayal pileup towards the last third of the movie didn’t leave me with much of anyone to really root for, just an eagerness to see who, if anyone, would survive. It came close to the sort of ending I’ve come to expect in the Saw franchise, but I still wasn’t left with any real sense of a “winner” in this game of cat and mouse. Though none of the actors were well-known names, I did have a spooky moment of recognition with Marsan, having seen him previously as Inspector Lestrade, but he is effective as a dangerous ex-con here, without being over-the-top (which made the reveal of Vic and Danny as lovers surprising, but relatively believeable).

If you’re looking for a kidnapping movie with a twist (and, really, more than one), check out The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

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