Most of The Disappearance of Alice Creed takes place in a small, sound-proofed room where two kidnappers hold the title character hostage. But the movie makes room for some dramatic twists and turns. And if you can't forgive their implausibility, you might feel like a prisoner of the theater. -
Vic (Eddie Marsan) is the wizened brains of the operation to Danny's (Martin Compston) anxious amateur. They snatch up Alice (Gemma Arterton) and chain her to a bed while they wait for her father to deliver the ransom. As is par for the course in abduction sagas from Fargo to Ransom, the kidnappers' are as distressed and impotent as their victim and infighting threatens to blow the entire operation.
Writer and director J Blakeson adds not one but two game-changing complications to Alice Creed that overwhelm what could have been an efficient if unoriginal thriller, at times making it border on telenovela territory. You accept the first revelation, even if the screenplay handles it sloppily and you've seen it before (think about Fargo for a hint). But by the time the second whopper gracelessly inserts itself (another hint: Vic and Danny met in prison), you could see eyes rolling despite the pitch black theater.
Speaking of darkness, Phillip Blaubach's cinematography is as monochrome and overcast as a typical day in the English countryside where Alice Creed is set. But his quick MTV-style cuts do display some rigor lacking in the ridiculous if intermittently suspenseful plot. The actors are solid despite static roles. Compston is nervous and dim until an unconvincing mood swing at the movie's convoluted conclusion. Arterton mostly borders on hysterics, but provides Alice with enough cunning to make you root for her. Marsan shows the greatest range, swinging from thuggish and menacing to vulnerable and betrayed.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a serviceable crime movie, but should have remembered that the tighter you twist a plot strand, the faster it unravels.