Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A bad day has just gotten worse for poor Jamie (Melissa George). She wakes up from a fairly serious car wreck, not in a hospital but on the dirty floor of some empty warehouse. Worst still is that she has no idea where her diabetic five year old son Michael (Connor Christopher Levins) is located. Unfortunately for Jamie things are going to go from bad to worse in writer / director Amanda Gusack’s claustrophobic thriller ‘The Betrayed’.

Jamie gets a visit from a tall skinny dude sporting a ski mask (Oded Fehr) who asks the completely dazed and confused woman some odd questions about her husband Kevin (Christian Campbell). According to this cat, Kevin has stolen forty million dollars and unless Jamie can tell him where this loot is located she, and her little boy, are dead. Initially Jamie believes Ski-Mask Dude has the wrong couple since Jamie and her husband of seven years are struggling Italian Restaurant owners… note that neither Jamie nor Kevin look like any Italians I know thus they’re food probably sucks since I’m guessing they don’t know how to cook it right which is probably why their restaurant is struggling. According to Ski Mask Dude that whole restaurant thing is just a front because Kevin is actually an international hitman / money launderer / drug dealer working with him under the close tutelage of the Kaiser Sose-esque mob boss Falco.

Jamie is still doubtful as to the validity of these claims which forces Ski Mask Dude to lay it out for her, including the fact that everything they’ve done for the last seven or so years has been taped, including the twice-a-week sexual romps the couple enjoys. Another note… This pair has been married seven years and they STILL have sex twice a week? This little nugget puts a strain on the narratives credibility a little bit for me.

Regardless, even if Jamie doesn’t believe the claims, the dude in the Ski Mask and his lecherous assistant Rafe (Donald Adams) believe with all their heart and soul and enhance their point with a little torture here, and a touch of child abuse sprinkled in to convince the woman that if she doesn’t somehow, someway figure out what her husband did with this forty million dollars in the twelve hour deadline that they’ve set for her, everybody dies. And we do mean everybody, including Ski Mask Dude and the lecherous Rafe and a couple of other assistants floating around this warehouse which might explain their hyper violent sense of urgency. For arguments sake Jamie buys into their claims about her husband and begins playing back scenarios in her minds eye and listening to hours of tapes. Eventually we find out that this woman is one smart cookie because she figures out a few things which just may give these people what they want, but can she figure it out before this deadline passes, because the mysterious Falco is making a personal appearance to collect this missing loot. Or kill everybody in the room.

I liked this movie ‘The Betrayed’. I liked it, I believe, in spite of itself. Recognize that Ms. Gusack’s movie brings absolutely nothing new to the table in this genre that you probably haven’t seen many, many times before and as the film began I had my concerns about viewing a movie that takes place almost entirely within the confines of a 10 x 10 windowless room. The good thing is that despite the tight working confines and all too familiar subject matter Ms. Gusack has crafted an effective narrative which rides on the backs of a pair of characters who become fairly well developed through the course of the film and who are performed quite ably by both Melissa George and Oded Fehr. George did a fine job playing the concerned mother willing to do whatever needed to be done to save her son and gives the audience a good feel for her character. Admittedly she also acquired some code cracking abilities along the way that would make the CIA proud, but who can predict what a protective mother will do to save her child? Fehr also did a fine job as the violent antagonist playing his character level and consistent but also reasonable. It was also nice to Alice Krige dust off the Borg Queen showing that when she chooses to, the woman can do bad and nasty just about as well as anyone.

This isn’t to say that ‘The Betrayed’ was a bedrock of coherence. To be as smart as she turned out to be, you would think Jamie would’ve understood the statement ‘we are watching your every move’ because she often forgot that there were cameras pointed at her at all times. I dug how Jamie tried to seduce the character of Rafe who informed the woman that she wasn’t worth dying over… but then again upon further review… I mean Melissa George is hot and all but I don’t know about all of that. By the time the movie reached its conclusion, considering it was basically a fairly intense character study, all of the sudden it turned into a John Woo flick with dead bodies piling up all over the place. And with almost any movie that eventually becomes an action flick, things stop making any kind of logical sense real fast and this one is no exception.

But despite the fact ‘The Betrayed’ is movie that wades in the waters of the very familiar it was still a very well done, well acted movie that had its share of suspense and its own particular slant which made it more than worth my time to watch.

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