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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

THE ENTITLED -- DVD review by porfle

Kevin Zegers of the recent FROZEN and one of my guilty pleasures, IT'S A BOY GIRL THING, stars in the low-profile but effective Canadian thriller THE ENTITLED (2011).  It isn't Hitchcock, but with a capable cast and an edgy script that keeps us wondering what'll happen next, I wasn't complaining.

Zegers plays Paul Dynan, a bicycle courier working his way through college and trying to better himself for the benefit of his sick mother, who can't afford her pills and is about to get thrown out of her house.  Putting his sharp wits to work, Paul devises a scheme to kidnap three rich kids (Dustin Milligan, Laura Vandervoort, John Bregar) and squeeze their dads for a million bucks apiece.  But his two mentally unstable accomplices, Dean (Devon Bostick) and Jenna (Tatiana Maslany), are more interested in anarchy than money and throw a monkey wrench into the works. 

What seems at first like a simple and not that exciting story gets more tense and unpredictable as Paul's plan goes haywire.  With the three hostages bound and blindfolded in a basement while their dads scramble to transfer funds into Paul's account, Dean and Jenna can't resist toying with these privileged progeny and bringing them down a peg or two.  As you might guess, one of them goes too far and suddenly Paul's intention of returning the three spoiled rich kids unharmed is violently derailed.  This is where the story starts getting more interesting.

Meanwhile, the frantic fathers wait anxiously by the phone and eventually start going at each other with suspicions and accusations.  This part of the film resembles a cracking one-act play with some powerful actors--Ray Liotta, Stephen McHattie, and Victor Garber (TITANIC)--getting steadily more intense and watchable.  The drama increases when one of them can't come up with his million and devises his own sneaky scheme to dupe one of the others into paying it. 

While Liotta and McHattie appear to be walking through their roles in the beginning, they start to bring it on after things heat up.  Garber enters the scene later and adds a whole new dimension when his character discovers that the others have been deceiving him about the situation.  Before long, he--and we--begin to suspect that one of the others might even be in on the whole kidnapping plot himself.

The film is nice-looking and director Aaron Woodley's style is clean and unobtrusive.  Writer William Morrissey maintains a deliberate pace throughout and never rushes things, letting the twists and turns of the plot hold our interest till the end.  With three separate dramatic situations going on concurrently--the desperate fathers whose friendship is falling apart over money, the kidnappers with vastly conflicting interests, and the terrified hostages trying to escape with their lives--the story generates a fair amount of suspense without resorting to graphic violence or shock. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with English 5.1 and Spanish mono.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  Bonuses consist of a behind-the-scenes featurette and an alternate ending. 

THE ENTITLED isn't what I'd call a "riveting" or "pulse-pounding" experience, nor does it really aspire to be.  It's just a slick, engrossing minor thriller that's good for a couple of hours of popcorn-munching entertainment.

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