What's got me scratching my head is why it wasn't released in the U.S. and the other reactions. On the iMDB it has a 6.1 rating -- this surprised me a slight bit because I thought it was better than that, but 6.1 is certainly respectable and I understand "other tastes" and all that. But then I took a look at the Rotten Tomatoes website to see the critics response...and it has a pathetically low rating of a paltry 20%. From the snippets of comments, the critics just hated it -- hated, hated it. And that's why I don't grasp. It's not a case of what am I missing -- because I know why I liked it so much and why I thought it was so well-crafted -- but I don't get what it was about the film that the critics just abhorred. After all, even if the viewers on iMDB didn't like it as much as I did, they at least still gave it a reasonable score.
I'd have thought that, if anything, the reaction would be the other way around. That's because the theatrical trailer makes the movie look like it's action-packed, and it isn't remotely, so perhaps that could have been a let-down to movie-goers. But the public generally enjoyed it. It's the critics -- who don't see trailers -- who hated the thing.
There is some action, by the way, and one high-velocity sequence in particularly is wonderful, but the film largely about the psychological pressure from the moment these five friends get the idea to go ahead through the aftermath. It’s based on a book written by the newspaper reporter, Peter R. de Vries, who did a lot of coverage and investigation.
One of the recurring comments from critics is how stupid the characters were. But that's sort of the point of the movie. Actually, no, that's not fair -- the characters aren't stupid at all. But they're amateurs, and so things don't go the way they planned. And in fact (and I mean that literally, because this is based on a true story), for amateurs they plan an incredibly intricate, well-thought out kidnapping, nothing remotely stupid at all. What perhaps can be considered somewhat "stupid" is that they while they do a great deal of planning, they didn't plan far enough ahead. The ad line for the movie is something like, “It was the perfect crime, until they pulled it off.” While that sounds funny there are no laughs. (It’s a sharply-focused, well-crafted “thriller.") The point is how things begin to unravel when life starts going a different way than they expected, and pressures start everyone fraying at the edges.
This, after a brief commercial, is the trailer. It’s good and doesn’t give anything away, though the movie is much better. The movie is “quieter”, which is more intense, and the pressure builds meticulously, rather than the fireworks here, to make it seem more action-packed for the audience. And it's mostly about the aftermath of the kidnapping, rather than split evenly with the planning as the trailer suggests.
So, I'm wary about recommending the film I loved it. The audience generally liked it. The critics utterly hated it. So, you might...well, I have no idea.
Nor do I have any idea why it didn't get released here, though did in Europe.