In the realm of direct-to-DVD thrillers, there are certainly a lot less attractive options available than "The Entitled." The production is glossy and professional and the cast is actually quite good for this sort of entertainment. The film aspires to be a twisty and clever thriller and, for the most part, succeeds as an amusing enough diversion. It is, however, one of those movies that it is best not to dissect as the screenplay doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. Style over substance, the narrative simply isn't as surprising or as smart as it wants you to believe. In the plot, an elaborate kidnapping scheme is executed to precision--but when the story needs to shift, someone will conveniently do something exceedingly dumb. This pattern is repeated throughout as a shortcut to relatively lazy storytelling. There is also a huge surprise moment (which I figured out the first time a certain character appeared on screen) whose payoff is completely determined by an absolutely illogical bit of plotting in the final act.
Kevin Zegers plays the piece's antihero. Suffering from the downturned economy, this good guy is only looking to protect his family. When he can't get ahead by legitimate means, he enlists two outcasts and masterminds the aforementioned kidnapping. Abducting three wealthy and entitled young adults, he expects to extract a million dollar bounty for each from their powerful fathers. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of the film, we see the struggles of the victims, the strife of the kidnappers, and the stress of the fathers. It is all surprisingly well acted, even if it isn't always the most believable of scenarios. Credit must go to character actors Ray Liotta, Victor Garber, and Stephen McHattie who play the tense scenes between the fathers with an unexpected urgency. The film, as I said, moves along briskly as the night proceeds and escalates into increasing violence.
"The Entitled" is a bit of a disappointment only in that it had the potential (due to the cast) to be special. I wanted to love this movie! The actors chew up the scenery at every opportunity and provide a real gravitas that most pictures in this genre lack. They just aren't given exceptional material to work with. The film's ending, which is supposed to be a gratifying surprise, is simply unforgivable in its lack of sense. I would rate the performances here at four stars, the plotting at two stars and round it out to an overall three. It's a shame--good actors and wasted potential. But still, easy to watch if you don't think too much. KGHarris, 8/11.