Movies: The Disappearance of Alice Creed * * *
For the expertly edited and wordless opening 10 minutes of J Blakeson's minimalist British crime thriller, we watch two men joylessly assemble the nuts and bolts of an abduction.
They buy handcuffs and duct tape and locks and ropes and soundproof insulation, and black out the windows of an apartment they've specially prepared as the scene of the crime. It's a chilling and rather brilliant beginning, and one it would always be hard to live up to, but in fairness Blakeson shows considerable intelligence in sustaining what is essentially a three-handed, one-room drama.
The two men are Vic (Eddie Marsden) and Danny (Martin Compston), their victim is Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton), who is bundled into a back room and tied to a bed with a sack over her head. Alice has a rich dad, and Vic and Danny are two opportunistic ex-cons who reckon they can make an easy £2m out of the kidnapping. But all is not as it seems and, as the drama unfolds, an unexpected battle of wills will develop between the three protagonists.
To say any more about this film's plot would risk giving away its twists, which are frequent and dramatic. Like a dodgy Harold Pinter play, the drama unfolds in a confined and claustrophobic space, and at times these criminals speak in the slightly stagey parlance of intellectualised hoodlums. But the performances are good, especially that of the versatile Marsden, while Miss Arterton proves she's more than just a plumply pretty face.