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How Not to Kidnap

Movie Review: The Quiet Arrangement (2009/2010)
Spoilers: none

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When the wife of Walter Briggs is kidnapped and held for ransom, the prominent attorney decides to take the matter into his own hands in the action/drama/thriller, The Quiet Arrangement. But Briggs, along with the kidnappers and two detectives, find themselves at a loss to keep the situation from spinning utterly out of control.

This brilliantly choreographed film, which rivals many of the bigger budget pictures in terms of straight-up production quality, will take the viewer's mind completely off of its low-budget status with an unsurpassed professional shine. While packed full of intensity in the form of trust-no-one bad guys out to do business, crack-house junkies, and wealthy husband-shopping wives with substance abuse problems, The Quiet Arrangement is a simultaneously high and low achiever.

The always well-cut but only-sometimes-intriguing plot goes the route of many indie works in biting off more than it can chew in presenting such an abundance of content that many segments of the film simply do not congeal as expected.

Making this full platter of a story a bit easier to swallow is the “bite-sized” delivery method, with the story told in a divided narrative from four different angles in the views of the main characters. The story moves backwards, Momento-style, so that the beginning of the film is actually the ending, with the surplus of details found throughout.

Such a rich story with some of the very best camerawork seen among independent films today does not absorb the serious damage taken from the at-first-atrociously-and-thereafter-persistently problematic acting—the first of several major setbacks for the film. Some acting lessons were definitely in order, but so was the need to cut some long, needless segments of hammy and pointless dialog that dilute every single chapter of the work, the editing of which could have shaved off 20 minutes of film time.

Plot-point-wise, The Quiet Arrangement does a fine job of avoiding most clich├ęs except when they are used in short but regular bursts to fill in the sentences in smarmy small-talk, often accompanied with “the f word,” which is thrown around far more often than it needs to be.

As serious of an issue as the acting or the dialog is that the only characters who manage to provoke any sense of concern in the eyes of the viewers are one of two detectives (Julian Hicks), a concerned kidnapper with his own admitted struggles and pallet of peculiarities (Kyle Jason), and Brigg's trophy wife (Christian Simkovich), who none too surprisingly takes center-stage in the drama. There is also a brief appearance by Chuck D.

Towards the end is where the film's only short-lived romantic venture is to be found. Among the less likable-but-believable characters is one of the kidnappers (John Delserone), a sexual deviant (evidently for the sake of eliciting a “dirty” realism). But that element isn't particularly a sell and is made worse with an unnecessary penis shot that falls flat in trying to give the character a sufficiently mundane vibe. The same goes for one implied male-to-male oral sex exchange with the same character after a business deal. Had it not been so abruptly intertwined, it would have been funny.

The Quiet Arrangement is an edgy winner-loser, so established in sterling professional craft that the look and feel are untouchable, and yet so rough-draft and flawed in terms of what matters most, like honing in on making more legitimate and memorable characters and “trimming the fat” from the meat in terms of plot focus and clarity.

Snyder's work racks up the majority of points for his raw skill and momentous ability in bringing to life such a labyrinthine story.

(JH)

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Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: No MPAA Rating
Director: David C. Snyder
Summary: When the wife of prominent lawyer Walter Briggs is kidnapped, he decides to take matters into his own hands. But things are not really what they seem and the abduction becomes more complicated for everyone involved.
Starring: Kyle Jason "Rick Fields," Christina Simkovich "Sharon Briggs," Rob Stone "Jack Simons," Julian Hicks "Carl Masterson," Kevin M. Hayes "Walter Briggs," Joseph D. Lane "Carter Booth," Chuck D. "Captain Ambercrombie"
Genre: Action / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
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