The Disappearance Of Alice Creed

The Disappearance Of Alice Creed


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

We open with a mute clipped sequence following two boiler-suited blokes kitting out a small flat, efficiently readying for a kidnap. The thrifty polish of the arrangement makes it a pleasing conceit for how writer-director J Blakeson constructs his film as a whole, clearly aware of budgetary confines. Scaling his piece to three characters in a clutch of cheap locations, he stages the triangular action predominantly in the spartan flat and then tries to wring from his double-crossing story all the tension and flair he can muster. For the most part it’s a darkly enjoyable homegrown crime caper.

Vic (Eddie Marsan) is the disciplined man with the detailed plan to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy family and extort a hefty ransom. Danny (Martin Compston) is his less assured junior cohort, the men having bonded when previously sharing a prison cell. Soon enough they have a terrified Alice (Gemma Arterton) gagged, bound to a bed and with video camera in her face. Their game is afoot. But of course, despite Vic’s precise engineering, control of the situation begins to shift when Alice gets wind of who her balaclava’d captors might be.

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Soon revelations beget twisting double-crosses and Blakeson is helped through the complications no end by his cast. Danny is a shifting concoction of callous schemer and weasely abettor and Compston manages to flit convincingly between the two when it best suits Danny’s interests. He’s a foil, however, to another striking performance from Marsan. The emotional weight and plated intimidation he invests in his brutal yet tenderised ex-con swiftly centralises Vic, despite Compston having the longer screen time. Arterton is a spunky abductee, her Alice first trussed, stripped and garishly humiliated before getting hold of a table to turn. It’s a polar opposite to her Titan and Persian roles this year, a counterpoint it would be nice to see continued. In this small set-up, though, the build-up to the bloody denouement is not helped by her character being the least defined.

If this is the result of working in such a tight framework, it is a lesser concern than ladles of exposition would be, and as the twists breed Blakeson sets a pace to gloss over it. It’s just as well, for as the plot rollicks along its corkscrew route, to pause for too long might have us dwelling on the credibility of the increasingly tense machinations. For the most part it’s a clever, solid script with a quirky take on the femme fatale role and a darn sight better than the Descent 2 screenplay that he worked on.

Blakeson makes a good job of presenting his low-rent and grubby settings with enough cinematic slick to alleviate the feeling that this could easily have been a taut stage play instead. He underlines this by ensuring that enough visual noir sensibilities, such as minimalist lighting, strategic angles and limited prop motifs, imbue his take on the crime genre or Creed. If it’s perhaps best seen as a well-organised but ultimately simple allegory of our money-grabbing times, it’s no less entertaining a yarn for all that.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2010
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A claustrophobic thriller about a kidnap where all does not go according to plan.
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Director: J Blakeson

Writer: J Blakeson

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston

Year: 2009

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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