Two ex-cons kidnap a millionaire’s daughter and hold her for ransom, only to see their scheme go awry when she proves herself to be more cunning than expected.
I’ve been quite open about my dislike of that certain corner of the horror world that’s reserved for what I see as unnecessary exploitation. If your film is simply 90 minutes of torturing the weak without the semblance of a plot or outcome then I will have checked out soon after the first limb has been broken. Call it pretentiousness. Call it cowardice if you will. That’s where I stand. So, when I started Reckless, and watched two masked men kidnap and strip a young woman strapped to a bed, I was ready for full-on eye roll mode.
And perhaps that says something about me, for despite my kneejerk reaction to tie the film to a Frisbee and throw it over a rainbow, Reckless turned out to be an extremely entertaining thriller in vein of Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave.
Victor (Tygo Gernandt) and Rico (Marwan Kenzari) are a couple of ex-cons from the Netherlands with a need for money and a dirty plan up their sleeve. They kidnap Laura Tamming (Sarah Chronis), keeping her locked up in their apartment until her father pays a hefty ransom. Whilst the kidnapping goes smoothly, mostly down to Victor’s meticulous planning, the same cannot be said for the aftermath. Rico seems to be getting cold feet and, much to Victor’s chagrin, is being too sympathetic to their prisoner. And why is that? Well, Rico has a secret. He knows Laura. In fact, he biblically knows her. Rico is an ex-lover of Laura’s and, upon witnessing the brutality being doled out on her by Victor, he’s beginning to regret his part in all this. But not enough to end his partnership with Victor though. Oh no! Not when there’s sweet, sweet money to be made.
If the film sounds suspiciously familiar than that may be because you’ve seen the British thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed on which Reckless is based. However, there’s enough going on here to surprise. Director Joram Lürsen gives the film a distinctly grounded feeling. Reckless is dark, murky and incredibly tense.
Gernandt is superb as the tenacious Victor. He dominates every scene he’s in with a quiet anger that suggests a man who will flip at any second. A simple scene that sees Victor encouraging Rico to eat healthier whilst they have Laura locked up is loaded with suggested violence. Victor is clearly not a man you want to meet down a dark alley. On the other side of the coin is Kenzari who adds a layer of humanity to Rico that appears to be missing in Victor. Totally in over his head, the audience is asked to mistrust and pity Rico. As the two men discuss their plans out of earshot of Laura, it becomes apparent that they have a serious history together that goes deeper than being old cellmates.
Let us not forget Chronis who, as Laura, is put through the wringer in a part that sees her stripped, tied up, drugged and forced to urinate in front of two threatening men. She wrestles the part with aplomb. Particularly when it becomes apparent that Laura, despite being somewhat incapacitated, is not going to take her situation lying down. As the film continues, she begins to play the two men against each other.
Despite my initial misgivings, Reckless is fantastic piece of cinema that shows Europe can kick still seven shades out of the rest of the world when it comes to cinema. It’s slow pace may not be suitable to those that like their films to come at them hot and fast, but those that are willing to sit down and let themselves be taken away will be rewarded. Like the aforementioned Shallow Grave, Reckless is all about what humans will do to each other when they’re pitted against each other. Whether it be for money, survival or love, as a species we should not be trusted.