Friday, January 31, 2014

The Tortured

How far would you go?
Occasionally, when traversing Netflix and probing through the titles for new releases or recommendations, I come across something that piques my interest and has me add an interesting title to my queue. Sometimes it’s a dud, other times it’s a run-of-the-mill film that’s semi-interesting or not too problematic to get through. But there’s that rare occasion when I find a diamond in the rough that makes me glad I take chances with films I know nothing about.

Such is the case with 2010’s The Tortured, starring Erika Christensen, Jesse Metcalfe and Bill Moseley. Directed by Robert Lieberman, who has directed films like Fire in the Sky, some episodes of Stephen King’s "The Dead Zone" and two episodes of "Dexter," he does a fine job in this presentation written by Marek Posival.

The story is about an upper class couple, Elise Landry (Christensen) and her husband, Craig (Metcalfe), and how their six-year-old son, Ben (Thomas Greenwood) is kidnapped by very disturbed John Kozlowski (Moseley). He takes the boy to his house, tortures the boy, and then kills him. Kozlowski’s soon caught and arrested, brought to trial and is sentenced to 25 to 60 years in prison. With the Landrys life turned upside-down, as well as it causing problems with their marriage, they soon come together to devise a plan to get revenge on Kozlowski, giving him a taste of his own medicine.
First off, whenever I see a movie’s tagged as a revenge story, my ears prick up and I become titillated, eager to dive into it. When done right, a revenge film is right up my alley. Even if some of the subplots or details are illogical—as with this film—I’ll still enjoy it. Secondly, when the revenge is for getting back at someone for killing a loved one or someone as defenseless as an innocent child, I’m there. Third and lastly, if the movie is very explicit and detailed in the act of revenge, you can bet I’ll be enjoying it.

Appropriately, The Tortured doesn’t show too much of what happens to the child in this film. Unlike films like I Spit on Your Grave, we don’t see the horrific specifics of what the child goes through leading to his death. Many of us can imagine what the child went through, so there was really no need to see it; this would be a very different movie if the filmmakers decided to go there.

The performance of Erika Christensen is believable and compelling. I’ve always found her to be a very good actress and I’ve wondered where she’d been since her part in Flightplan around eight years
ago. She played the part well of a woman who has lost her only child to a vicious murder, as she succumbs to withdrawing from the world and her husband, becoming nearly catatonic, yet spiteful.

Jesse Metcalfe, on the other hand, played the part well, but gave the movie a Hallmark or movie-of-the-week feel to it. I felt that he really gave it his best, showing and voicing his emotions as the story unfolded, but didn’t have the strength in his acting to make it convincing. Metcalfe is not a bad actor in any sense and with Christensen playing opposite him, the scenes are sound and pretty solid.

Bill Moseley seemed like he spent a day of filming on this movie, as we don’t see much of him. He basically telephones his performance in, with not much of dialogue spoken, but seeing that the film is not spotlighted on him, all can be forgiven. In some ways, I wish there was more of Moseley in this flick, but it would definitely take away from the impact of the story and change it to something entirely different.

Really, besides some mediocre performances from Metcalfe and some forced backstory involving flashbacks with the boy, there’s only one thing that sticks out and that’s the plan to kidnap the killer as he’s en route to the prison. I can believe the preparation involved, especially as the filmmakers decided to make the character of Craig Landry a doctor so he can easily get his hands on certain instrumentations and drugs, but to see how they were able to abduct the prisoner who was in an secured transfer van was a little off kilter.

Other than that little nitpick, the film was pretty solid and had a nice twist at the end that I really did not see coming. I would’ve liked to see how everything would’ve panned out afterwards, but seeing as how this film made me think about it long after ejecting the DVD, I believe the filmmakers ended it perfectly.

My final "bit" on The Tortured?

If you like films like I Spit on Your Grave or Law Abiding Citizen, I know you’ll like this film. The film definitely shows the ugly side of life that there are psychopaths out there that will do unspeakable crimes like the character of Kozlowski commits. We’ve all heard about criminals out
there who get away with it or just get thrown in jail, when they really should get exactly what they did to their victims. I actually made this last paragraph three times as long by going into the trial of Richard Allen Davis, but deleted it because it may be too political. I’ll just end this with saying I do believe in "an eye for an eye" because I think we’d have a lot less crime if punishment was more severe in this country. In the meantime, check out The Tortured.

Thanks for reading and I welcome any comments!

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