Film Review: The Abducted (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

Velora is abducted by Ridley, a crazy dude who is adept with a sniper rifle. Will she escape before he tires of her and kills her?

REVIEW:

Directed by Jon Bennell
Starring: James Ray, Kathleen Benner, Michael Harrelson

Professional sports organizations have sources from which they farm new talent, talent that excels among an otherwise mediocre selection of athletes. The NFL has college football. The NBA has college basketball, sometimes even high school. MLB has AAA ball that they look to in order to harvest potential superstars. If you take any of the college teams (or farm teams for baseball) and put them up against the worst professional team in their respective sports, the college team wouldn’t stand a chance. Watching The Abducted is like watching a college sports event: you can see glimpses of talent throughout the game but overall it just doesn’t quite measure up to the skill level, entertainment value, or the excitement the Pros provide.

The actors in this movie do a serviceable job. There are only one or two roles that feel forced. Otherwise, the performances here are solid. In particular is the performance of James Ray as Ridley. Mr. Ray has a unique charm and plays the role of the crazy sniper convincingly. His character seems to genuinely not be cognizant of the fact that he’s crazy and Ray does a good job of not making a caricature of the role. He kind of looks like Terry O’Quinn (the original “Stepfather” but more popularly known as John Locke from the TV Series “Lost”) and a better looking Randy Quaid (National Lampoon’s Vacation, and apparent house squatter), with just a dash (seriously, just a dash) of George Clooney’s patented head bobble. Kathleen Benner (“Flesh, TX” 2009, a movie I haven’t seen, but, man, what a great title!)) is ok as Velora, the victim that refuses to acquiesce to her captor’s demands. I can’t tell if her acting chops or the character as it was written was lackluster, perhaps a combination of both. I’m hoping it was the latter as her performance wasn’t annoying, there just wasn’t much sizzle. Michael Harrison was probably not the weakest link, in a cast of like four people, as the grandfather to Valora, but he was close.

My favorite aspect of the film was the cinematography. Maybe I just miss the desert, but Webb Pickersgill (how awesome of a name is that?!) did a really good job of showing some beautiful Southwestern vistas. He also, along with Jon Bennell’s direction I’m assuming, was able to get some really interesting shots throughout the film. At one point, Ridley is playing a cat and mouse game with Valora in the junkyard in which he’s keeping her prisoner. The camera angles shift quickly with Valora in the foreground and Ridley scurrying behind pieces of cover behind her. It was very effective and well done, and just one of the intriguing elements of Pickersgill’s work throughout the film.

The one major criticism I have of the film is its lack of story. The synopsis I wrote above is basically all there is to it. There’s some exposition on Valora told in flashbacks involving her being taught as a child to shoot things by her grandfather that, story wise, has relevance in the film’s conclusion, but that really didn’t lend anything to her character. There was no explanation for how Ridley became the man that was depicted and ironically, even without his back story, he was way more interesting than the victim. I would have like to have seen more on what happened to him to make him the way he was.

So, if you’re in the big leagues of filmmaking and are searching for new talent, check out The Abducted. You may find a diamond in the rough in James Ray or the cinematographer Webb Pickersgill. There’s even promise in Kathleen Benner and director Jon Bennell. As a film though, it just can’t compete with the heavy hitters in the industry.

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