Paul (Kevin Zegers) has problems unbecoming of his age. His mom is gravely ill, stuck taking prohibitively expensive medication and as a result, the house is in foreclosure. He can’t find a job, is drowning in student loans, and decides to take the slightly less than easy route out: Kidnap rich kids. Isn’t that everyone’s first thought?
Paul’s plans have holes though, namely the two not-yet-quite-goth kids who hate their own world. Audience sympathy is built around Paul, his housing and financial nightmare in this economy a driving force behind his actions. The other two? They’re teenagers who believe they’re rebels and not as stable as Paul would like.
The Entitled isn’t a one-sided story, really a three-way tussle between Paul’s clan, the trio of kidnapped teens, and the fathers of the latter. Each plays out a different side of the emotional scale, although all become intertwined with panic and fear. As with any ransom thriller, plans don’t go according to the outline; if they did there wouldn’t be much of a film.
That’s where The Entitled loses itself though, becoming tangled in a spotty morality play where characters stop being likable and begin playing the wrong sides. Ray Liotta becomes a pawn, a character that exists solely to misdirect the audience on the basis of suspicion. It’s overplayed to death and within moments of the kidnapping, foreshadowing a twist that could only lead to the least likely candidate.
The final act, or even the final moments really, is where The Entitled has its chance to strike, a nerve wracking two or three minutes where secrets are balanced on a line. Hopes are dashed when the clean, uncluttered ending wraps itself up too easily, especially considering the harshness of preceding events. The secret is out, thriller fans have been bogged down by stupid forced actions in the interest of falsifying tension, and the morality play is left too open. Entitled had a chance.
Anchor Bay pushes out an AVC encode for this little thriller, presenting it on Blu-ray with just enough definition to pass without drawing any serious ire. Opening up on an aerial of the city, Entitled is worrisome from the get go. Buildings are soft, muddy, and barely sharp enough to be considered defined. Most of the exteriors suffer this same fault, possibly even pulled from different stock to fill a needed void in the editing room.
Softness will dominate, although not to the extent seen in those opening flashes. Entitled never finds a groove as far as sharpness is concerned, the filmic softness merely adequate. Grain is retained so out goes any potential foul play on the Anchor Bay, as if it were ever a possibility. The source material isn’t always conducive to any grand definition anyway, shot mostly in the dark or with limited light. Light, of course, almost always means orange or teal in those dank basements or closed gas stations.
Black levels seem to have a nice grip on the content at first, before slowly losing out as the film moves on. More than a handful of scenes land up in that murky gray scale, unable to regain control over the image’s depth. Contrast peters out with the light, logical of course, although not helping much either.
The typically cool palette has negative effects all around, leaving skin to weirdly appear plastic in the mid-range. Part of that is the softness/detail concern, the other part being the color timing. Flesh tones will appear completely pale at times, devoid of color while a stern backdrop provides the saturation. Mannequins these are not, although they certainly appear as such.
A boomy club sequence will signal the first shot across the bow for this TrueHD track, a generally forgotten uncompressed affair until things turn south for the kidnappers. Music will slam the low-end effectively, hard to miss when it’s rocking this heavy. Tense moments will signal for it again, a deep, tight throbbing bass line signaling trouble.
Gunshots will offer some pop as well, although with a frequency that doesn’t qualify as “often.” Shotguns certainly have some zip though, and a handgun will ignite the highs. Late, the forest will offer a modicum of ambiance as insects do their thing, the highlight of this disc’s effort to immerse.
Dialogue is typically firm save for a handful of lines at 14:45 that sound like they were recorded over a phone. It’s a rapid rebound and nothing to be concerned with unless you’re a fidelity hound.
Behind-the-scenes action is offered up in the first of two bonus features, an 11-minute bit on the script and general praise for all. An alternate ending adds a little more kick to the piece, although it would become slightly more typical with this stuck on the finale.
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