Saturday, August 20, 2016

Billionaire Ransom: Movie Review (AKA Take Down)

Great setting but poorly executed.
Take a bunch of over-privileged rich kids with daddy issues, send them to a remote island for a survival course, put some bad guys seeking a big pay day after them, and you’ve got Billionaire Ransom. The idea behind this survival course is that it’s a wilderness school where spoiled brats will learn to become men. The idea behind this movie is that these kids will be forced to put their survival skills to good use when they’re held for ransom. 2016

Directed by: Jim Gillespie

Screenplay by: Alexander Ignon

Starring: Jeremy Sumpter, Phoebe Tonkin, and Ed Westwick

Let’s start with the good. The cinematography is beautiful. The setting is a remote Scottish island with hills, valleys, forests, streams, ruins of old castles, and small castles still standing. The scenery was gorgeous, perfectly lit, and the setting really did allow for a solid game of cat-and-mouse. The kids don’t have a way off the island, the bad guys think they have them right where they want them, but it’s a large island, lots of places to run, and even more vantage points.

Now let’s move onto everything else. It’s a serious thriller filled with drama and action, but the drama was so over-wrought with over-acting, an incessant score that makes you know not everything is safe and sound, and action that incites laughter as opposed to suspense.

The big problem is the characters. All of the characters. From the rich kids, to the course instructors, to the bad guys, and the parents of the rich kids, none of them were established as sympathetic or even remotely interesting. Which meant their motivation for doing anything was pointless, and worse, the audience doesn’t care. When the outcome of every turn in the action makes no difference to the viewer, then we have no reason to keep watching. There were a few violent deaths and I couldn’t help but laugh every time, because it was just so stupid it was silly.

When the bad guys first arrived on the island they had to take down all of the security guards. But why were there multiple armed security guards for all of 8 teenagers who had no personal possessions and there was only one course instructor? They probably also shouldn’t have been so easy to kill, especially when hunting down the rich kids became so difficult.

Billionaire Ransom mixed in the right amount of drama and action in the thriller, but when the drama isn’t interesting and the action is silly and the thriller isn’t suspenseful, then all you’re left with is this beautiful Scottish island and you don’t care what happens on it.

Similar Titles:

The Entitled (2011) - Rich kids, poor kids, their parents, and all their attitudes locked in a house.

Retreat (2011) - A tight, gripping indie thriller devolving into blood-soaked conspiracies.