'Reclaim': Film Review

Courtesy of MPRM
John Cusack needs a career intervention

An American couple fall victim to an adoption scam in this Puerto Rico-set thriller

Can somebody please initiate a Kickstarter campaign to rescue John Cusack from appearing in horrible movies? The once A-list actor has in recent years been starring in far too many substandard, practically direct-to-video efforts that shamelessly squander his considerable talents. The latest example is Reclaim, Alan White’s formulaic B-movie thriller in which Cusack is reduced to playing the sort of villain who should be essayed by an underpaid character actor.

The high-concept plot concerns an American couple, Steven (Ryan Phillippe) and Shannon(Rachelle Lefevre) who journey to the Caribbean to adopt a young Haitian girl (Briana Roy) orphaned by an earthquake. After shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to an adoption agency whose representative (Jacki Weaver, similarly wasted) fairly bursts with kind solicitude, the happy couple and their new daughter head to a Puerto Rican resort while waiting for final arrangements to be made.

They’re soon befriended by Benjamin (Cusack), an American traveler who seems to take an inordinate interest in the couple, proclaiming his admiration for what they’re doing because he himself was adopted. Less genial are his cohorts Paola (Veronica Faye Foo) and Salo (Jandres Burgos), with the latter provoking Steven into a bar fight and giving him a thorough beating.

Shortly into their stay the little girl disappears from their hotel room, with the local police superintendent (Luis Guzman) proving sympathetic but less than helpful. It’s eventually revealed—and no spoiler alert here, because it’s all in the trailer—that the couple have fallen victim to an elaborate swindle targeting Americans desperate to adopt. And yes, Benjamin is the ringleader.

Cue the usual procession of chases and shootouts, including a literal cliffhanger involving a jeep dangling precariously from the edge of a cliff.

Phillippe and Lefevre effectively go through the required contortions as the couple in peril, and child actress Roy is indeed adorable. And to be fair, Cusack doesn’t phone it in. He gives the part his all, displaying his usual expert deadpan comic timing while delivering the weak quips in Carmine Gaeta and Luke Davies’ screenplay. But it’s disheartening nonetheless to see him working so hard to enliven such inferior material.

The film at least benefits from its gorgeous Puerto Rican locations, so loving photographed by Scott Kevan that it could serve as a tourism promotional vehicle, although presumably one not geared to couples seeking to adopt.

Production: Grindstone Entertainment Group

Cast: John Cusack, Ryan Phillippe, Rachelle Lefevre, Briana Roy, Veronica Faye Foo, Luis Guzman, Jacki Weaver

Director: Alan White

Screenwriters: Carmine Gaeta, Luke Davies

Producers: Brian Etting, Josh Etting, Gary Hamilton, Mike Gabrawy, Fredrik Malmberg, Silvio Muraglia, Ian Sutherland, Robert Luketic, Armine Gaeta, Luke Davies

Executive producers: Peter M. Graham II, Stephen Hays, Barry Brooker, Stan Wertlieb, Jon Chiew, Wang Yan, Luillo Ruiz

Director of photography: Scott Kevan

Editors: Dobbie White, Scott D. Hanson

Production designer: Meghan Rogers

Costume designer: Julia Michelle Santiago

Composer: Inon Zur

Casting director: Patricia Alonso

Rated R, 96 min.

 

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