Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Entitled and Blowing Up The American Dream: A Movie Review

Director: Aaron Woodley.

Writer: William Morissey.

Cast: Kevin Zegers, Ray Liotta, and Stephen McHattie.

The Entitled is a film which was shot in Ontario, Canada, with help from Telefilm Canada. The film stars Kevin Zegers of Wrong Turn fame, Canadian actor Stephen McHattie (Die) and the versatile actor Ray Liotta. This is a tense kidnap thriller that incorporates some important messages about "The American Dream" and its promise of wealth. Occasionally predictable, director Aaron Woodley keeps the tension high through malevolent planning, double-crosses, false accusations and murder.

The film begins with Paul feeling trapped by his job and his lot in life. His mother is sick and her medication bills continue to rise. Meanwhile, his parents have to foreclose on their house. These are desperate times. So, Paul steps outside of the law to plan an elaborate kidnapping, which, while intricate, does not go how he would like. Soon characters are being killed, one woman is doing her best to sabotage everything she touches, while the three ransomers are turning against each other.

There truly are a number of sub-plots and interesting characterizations here. One of the more interesting developments in the story is Paul's recruitment of Dean (Devon Bostick) and Jenna (Tatiana Maslany). A reveal late shows how much work and research Paul has put into recruiting these two for his kidnapping. However, one scene of Paul surveilling these two makes his final plan somewhat transparent. It is only a matter of time before the real fireworks begin.

And when the fireworks are going off there is tension from both the side of the protagonists (Paul) and the antagonists. This really is a complex script from William Morissey, as there is no good guy versus bad in this picture. Instead, many of the characters could be seen as the villain including a rude and pompous sports car driving kid, a lying and possibly thieving friend, who cannot come up with his part of the ransom or one of the recruited kidnappers, who has a history of killing and abusing animals. This is dark material here.

This critic would just like to close out the review with a look at the film's underlining message, which this reviewer has studied extensively. The American Dream is part of this film, sometimes subtly. The American Dream is a cultural mythos whereby everyone has the right to pursue happiness, including financial success. However, as most can see, the majority of wealth is held by the top 1% of American population. Where does that leave others? Those on the lower end of the financial scale cannot work their way out of their position to financial gains with minimum wage jobs and mortgages. Therefore, promises of The American Dream are illusionary to an extent. The American Dream's promise of prosperity is not always attainable, as seen by the character Paul: "I wanted to play by the rules, but sometimes you have to break them, right?" In order to get the wealth Paul wants he feels he has to steal from the rich. And really is that any different from the corporate elitists who steal from their workers, by offering them minimum wage?

Apologies for this tangent, but The American Dream is a topic that comes up at a couple points in the film, most prominently at the end. Overall, The Entitled is an exciting kidnap thriller that looks at class structure and wealth. Full of thrills through misdirections and double-crosses, this is a film that needs and deserves a larger audience. Check this one out, as The Entitled has just be released on DVD and Blu-Ray as of September 6th.

Writing/plot/structure: 8 (complex characters, some predictability, excellent development).
Characters/believablility: 8 (the character's actions seem believable to this reviewer, even the anti-social psychopaths crazy decisions).

Overall: 8 out of 10 (see it).

More on the film's plot here:

Foundation Pictures' Homepage

 |  |  |  | 

Advertise Here - Contact me Michael Allen at 28DLA

Subscribe to 28 Days Later: An Analysis Email Subscription