Continuing with our series of films about kidnappings – our second entry is the 2009 tense French thriller called Rapt. In a nutshell, a CEO with connections going right into the French equivalent of our White House, is brutally kidnapped on the eve of his trip to China with the President of France.
The kidnappers are a highly organized group. Their demands are simple – a ransom of 50 Million Euros is to be paid. The deadline is in just a few days. Instructions to follow.
For proof of life – not actually – but it would have to function as such for a while, the kidnappers cut off one of the fingers of his left hand, and additionally, they have him write out his circumstances in a way that leaves out the details but sets up the situation. These are sent to his home, so that his family and the authorities, will have something tangible which will convey the dire circumstance that this CEO is in.
His name is Stanislas Graff, and he’s played by Yves Attal. As it turns out, he’s not a particularly nice guy. He’s filthy rich – that’s a given. But in the media frenzy that ensues in the aftermath of the Police examining every inch of the man’s office and business, his home, and his social life which included a regular and private high stakes poker game, casino gambling debts, a jet-set life-style which means you won’t be surprised to find that he’s got a fancy pied-a-terre in Paris where he meets his mistress for afternoon delights. This one, the one currently installed, is only the latest one and there’s a lengthy list of former partners/occupants.
His wife, played by Anne Consigny, wasn’t caught completely by surprise about this either. She knew and she didn’t know, in the usual manner of a trophy wife in public, but with separate bedrooms at home.
Then there’s the matter of the money. He had the only access to his bank accounts. His money was separate from the corporate funds. His wife and family could only get their hands on a few million. I can hear your question – what about his firm? Well they had a policy – I guess you could say it was the opposite of key man insurance. In short they simply would not pay. They would advance many million Euros but documents had to be created. T’s crossed, I’s dotted, etc. In short they would front the money – but it would have to be repaid.
Negotiations with the kidnappers ensue. Only 20 Million Euros can be raised. Not acceptable say the kidnappers. Tick tock – you’re wasting our time they say.
Meanwhile, Graff’s condition deteriorates. Being blindfolded, manacled, chained, and forced to wear the same socks and underwear for days on end can’t be fun. We are heading for an impasse. Graff is not as rich as he thought he was, and the corporation will only do so much to facilitate his safe return.
Eventually, the kidnappers lay it out for him – Who took the trouble to notify the police? Maybe they don’t want to see you again?
And that readers is my cue to say that this is as far as I can take you with the set up of the film.
Okay – it is a slow-moving film, and it took me awhile to figure out the who is who. Between the high-ranking government officials, the top-level corporate officers and board of directors, and the senior police suits – I was a bit lost. But that all sorts itself out. I can also say that my total unfamiliarity with the cast (except for Attal) played a part in that small struggle I had to get my bearings.
There’s not a lot of action. If you’re looking for high-speed car chases, shootouts, and a lot of violence – you will come away disappointed. There a hand over of the ransom money that goes bad, and has to be redone. There’s a great set-piece, actually a cat and mouse game, where the kidnappers give phone instructions, and the police follow at distance. This involves cars, trains, helicopters – the whole nine yards.
And to top it all off, there’s a distinctly non-standard ending to the film. Directed and written by Lucas Belvaux, this film differs from most of the kidnapping films that you may have seen. Vive la difference as the French might say.
In closing I’ll say that the film asks a great question – how much is a life worth anyway? It is both a kidnapping film and a not so subtle commentary on lifestyles, mores, and about owning the responsibility for one’s actions. I’m scoring it at three-point seven five, but I will recommend it. Available via Netflix streaming or DVD rental., or you can find the DVD offered for sale on the internet.
Have a look at the trailer.