The opening of this movie is a very impressive sequence that sets the tone for what’s to come almost too perfectly. We watch as two non-descript men slowly prepare for the abduction of the title character—buying supplies, lining the van with plastic, setting up the room and restraints. It’s all very cold, calculating and precise and seeing the emotionless pair go about everything as if they were renovating a room was pretty unnerving and very effective. The rest of the film follows suit, offering an unflinching look at the terrifying reality of a kidnapping. ALICE CREED doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff and better yet, everything is handled with intelligence, thought and deft realism in between the tension.
As a film, the set up and execution is very simple. With only three characters and as many locations in its entire runtime, ALICE CREED could easily be a stage play, but that doesn’t stop it from working as a tight psychological thriller and focused character piece. With so few participants, each actor is given ample time to shine and the movie features incredibly strong acting from everyone involved. Arterton plays the victim well (and all the crying and emotion that goes along with that) but without giving anything away, she is also given the opportunity to show a larger range that promises well for her career as more than eye candy. (She does show some skin here but it’s not exactly pleasant.) As the kidnappers, Martin Compston plays sympathetic, slimy and shifty to a tee as Danny, but it’s Eddie Marsan, who you may remember from Guy Ritchie’s SHERLOCK HOLMES movie, that steals the show. Marsan has a quiet rage but relatable level-headedness that makes him a force to be reckoned with, both as a character and an actor. With all the twists and turns, crosses and double crosses, you never know what exactly is going on with the characters and all three of them make great use of the script.
This is a very impressive and bold debut from writer/director J Blakeson -- confident, smart and highly watchable. I’m not sure if the entire movie and pacing holds up to the high standard set by brilliant beginning, but overall it’s an enjoyable and engrossing crime movie.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: One quick excised snippet features cautious kidnappers preparing their cell phones and another offers a longer take of Alice's first showdown with the kidnapper, which goes in to a wee bit more detail about their past. Both are available with commentary by Blakeson.
Outtakes: It may seem weird for a serious thriller like this to have a gag reel, but it makes sense that many of the tense scenes would devolve in to nervous laughter. There's some funny lightness here, including Arterton dancing provocatively between takes.
Storyboard Comparison: A look at how the opening sequence was planned out.
Extra Tidbit: Supposedly Gemma Arterton’s performance in this film is what convinced Ridley Scott to consider her for a role in the ALIEN prequel.