Jul 7, 2015
While it is unfortunately not uncommon for Hollywood to take successful European films and remake them in a decidedly dumbed down fashion for subtitles-shy American philistines who cannot be bothered with artsy fartsy things like nuance and subtext, among other things, it is not exactly common for European filmmakers, especially Dutchmen, to remake semi-mainstream hit indie thrillers, yet the somewhat popular Dutch filmmaker Joram Lürsen. Indeed, despite being a TV hack turned mainstream director that is responsible for romantic-comedies like Alles is liefde (2007) aka Love is All and Alles is familie (2012) aka Family Way and sappy family films like In Oranje (2004) aka In Orange, Lürsen managed to create a vastly superior film to the British psychological crime-thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) written and directed by J Blakeson with his latest feature Bloedlink (2014) aka Reckless aka De Verdwijning van Vera Muller. While a fairly faithful remake with some of the same exact shots and most of the same scenarios, Lürsen’s version is ultimately more tightly directed, culturally subversive, and just plain more hardcore. A three-person chamber piece that is largely set in a single apartment, the film indubitably feels like it is based off of an original play but is actually the brainchild of Blakeson, who dreamed up what would probably be the greatest homo thriller since Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Leopold and Loeb flick Rope (1948). Luckily, Lürsen took Blakeson’s original idea and ultimately proved that he is the superior cinematic craftsman. Of course, considering his hit film Love is All (which, incidentally, was remade in both Belgium and Germany) is more or less a raunchy Dutch rip-off of the retarded British rom-com Love Actually (2003), it seems that Lürsen is a sort of perennial artisan as opposed to a serious auteur, but I digress. Aside from receiving a screener of the film from Artsploitation Films and wanting to see how it compared to The Disappearance of Alice Creed, I decided to watch Reckless because I wanted to see how Dutch leading man Tygo Gernandt (Van God Los aka Godforsaken!, The Black Death) sized up as quasi-psychopathic cocksucking kidnapper. Although he is a fairly popular actor in the Netherlands, I am mainly familiar with Gernandt for his early role in the Aryan Kaganof classic Naar de klote! (1996) aka Wasted! as an innately impotent longhaired pothead neo-hippie bum whose reasonably more masculine girlfriend cheats on him with a wigger pseudo-gangster degenerate with whom she is dealing ecstasy. Undoubtedly, in Lürsen’s film, Gernandt demonstrates he is just as good at playing authoritarian shit-stabbing criminals as he is at playing exceedingly emasculated pot-addled breeders.
A work that is notable for featuring one of the most bizarre love triangles in thriller cinema history, Reckless is ultimately more intriguing than The Disappearance of Alice Creed because it features an added racial dynamic that was totally absent from Blakeson’s film. Indeed, the film features a ‘bisexual’ male femme fatale (or ‘homme fatale’) as played by an actor of Tunisian Arab stock who ultimately double-crosses both his white male and white female lovers in what one might describe as an allegory for multicultural Holland if one did not know better. Undoubtedly, Reckless is a great example of a film that would be completely banal to write about without revealing certain spoilers, as it is a work that deceives the viewer just as much as the characters deceive one another. Surely, one of the most clever aspects of the film is that it tricks most viewers into watching what one would describe as a somewhat ‘queer’ film, especially considering that it belongs to a genre that is traditionally rampantly heterosexual and stars male actors that are hardly homophiliac when it comes to choosing film roles. Of course, the film’s initially hermetic ‘heteroflexible’ themes are among the things that make it so potent, unforgettable, and suavely sleazy. Indeed, while Reckless is unequivocally a thriller, it also features a winsome hint of trailer trash melodrama that ultimately makes all the difference when it comes to distinguishing the film from countless other disposable works of the obscenely outmoded genre. In short, if Hitchcock had a too-cool-for-school Dutch grandson with a fetish for S&M and bondage, he might have directed Reckless.
For nearly the first five minutes of the film, the viewer watches ex-con Victor aka ‘Vic’ (Tygo Gernandt) and his somewhat younger brown Arab underling Ricardo aka ‘Rico’ (Marwan Kenzari of Jim Taihuttu’s Wolf (2013)) as they silently buy materials and build a soundless padded room in a dilapidated apartment for an upcoming kidnapping that they plan to carry out. Ultimately, the two plan to kidnap a young and fairly slutty looking blonde named Laura Temmink (Sarah Chronis) and then demand that her stinking wealthy Fortune 500 realtor father Leo pay four million Euros in ransom money to get her back. While he initially seems like a brown slave and cowardly cuck of alpha-prick Vic, who is indubitably the most the more domineering of the two, Rico has a secret scheme that his unwitting comrade has no clue about. Upon grabbing Laura off the street and putting her inside the sort of unnoticeable plain white van that one would assume a serial killer might use, the two men put a gag ball device into her mouth that is typically used by people involved with BDSM role play and drive her to a secret apartment where they have installed a sort of pseudo-S&M prison room. Indeed, upon tying her legs and feet to the bedposts of the bed, Vic and Rico quickly cut all of her clothes off, including her underwear, with scissors and then take photos of her unclad body in bondage with a digital camera to send to her father (!) to prove to him that they have kidnapped his daughter and that she is in a precarious situation that seems to have an unsettling ‘sexual’ component to it. After snapping photos of their victim, the two criminals put a sack over her head and lock her in the room by herself while she is still strapped to the bed.
Since the two criminals do not want their victim to croak, they irregularly bring her water, though Vic warns her the first time he takes her gag device off, “If you scream we have to hurt you. OK? We don’t want to kill you, but if it’s necessary we will. First pain, then death.” When Laura attempts to plead with them by lying and stating, “Please let me go. My daughter needs her medication,” Vic assertively replies, “Don’t. Don’t. We know everything about you. You don’t have a daughter. You help yourself and us if you just do as we say.” Of course, Laura does not like Vic’s response, so she bites him in an aggressive animalistic fashion and he responds by smacking the shit out of her and firmly stating, “Listen, you cunt, there are two people who can get you out of here. That’s us…He and I. So we’re your new best friends from now on.” From there, Vic informs Laura of what hand signals she needs to give him and Rico anytime she needs to use the bathroom, telling her, "If you wet yourself, it’s your problem.” Anytime Laura has to take a leak, Vic and Rico are forced to pull her pants and panties down and make her piss in a jug while she is still lying down and bound to the bed. It is quite apparent that Rico is not exactly comfortable with snapping S&M photos of Laura and making her piss in a jug, but his reasons for having these feelings are quite different than what the viewer might expect.
Vic is an absurdly anally retentive and obscenely obsessive compulsive guy who literally monitors every single little move that his turd-colored comrade makes. When Rico attempts to drink some beer after getting done tying up Laura, Vic will only allow him to have a single can, telling him “we’re not amateurs.” When Rico refuses to eat dinner after a long hard day of quasi-S&M style kidnapping, Vic becomes fairly paranoid and accuses him of becoming “sentimental” and a “sissy,” so the seemingly melancholy Arab finally gives in and eats. Somewhat curiously, when Vic decides to leave the apartment to run some errands, Rico visits Laura in her padded room and freaks her out by sniffing her body. Meanwhile, Vic makes a deal with Laura’s father to give her back for four million Euros. To demonstrate to her father that they are serious, Vic films Rico with a knife to Laura’s throat as she pleads to her daddy to do whatever they say or she will be dead.
Ultimately, things get fairly more interesting in the film when Laura signals to Rico that she has to defecate while Vic is away. When Rico makes the mistake of agreeing to turn around while Laura is taking a shit in a bucket after she complains “I can’t do this with someone watching me,” he gets hit in the head with said bucket by the kidnap victim, who also manages to grab his gun. After Laura somewhat senselessly fires a round from the weapon into the wall of the room, Rico declares “it’s me,” takes off his mask, and reveals that he is her lover. Naturally, Laura is quite angry with her dubious brown beau, but Rico rationalizes his behavior by saying he did it for her to rob her much maligned father, stating, “You always said you hated him. He never gives you anything. He thinks the way you live sucks. You said yourself that he doesn’t give a shit about you. This is it, Laura. This is the way to get money off him. We talked about it, but didn’t know how. This is it.” After moronically revealing Vic’s name to her and that he plans to rip his partner off, Rico promises to Laura, “You and me will have the money and go to some tropical beach.” When Laura complains, “You told me you loved me,” Rico acts like the stereotypical lying would-be-pimp ‘playa’ by replying, “I do love you. So much. It’s the only reason why I did this.” When Rico tells Laura that he planned to tell her about his plan after receiving the ransom money, she sarcastically replies, “So what would you have told me? 'Sorry I chained you to a bed like some S&M whore. And that I ogled your pussy with some retard.’” Of course, when Rico informs Laura that all she has to do is ‘play victim’ for another day or two and they will receive four million euros in ransom money from her father, she agrees to go along with the charade and allows him to tie her back to the bed after Vic knocks on the door and demands to be let back in the apartment.
While Vic has no idea that Rico and Laura are lovers, the second day in the apartment he begins becoming extra paranoid when his comrade spends a little too long in the bathroom, so he kicks down the door. Unbeknownst to Vic, Rico had just swallowed a bullet shell from the round that Laura shot off. While Vic proclaims, “I don’t smell anything” upon entering the bathroom after Rico makes the claim that he was in there for a long time because he had to take a dump, he finally stops being paranoid and stops giving his super swarthy sidekick a hard time. In fact, Vic theorizes to Rico regarding his mysterious bowel movements, “Adrenalin…That’s what causes it. Suddently having to crap, foul taste in your mouth.” As demonstrated by the fact he refuses to sleep one night, Vic is about to go over the edge as a result of his paranoia in regard to the kidnapping, but his worries are not just in regard to money. Indeed, after remarking to Rico that they will both be “set forever” after getting the ransom money, Vic romantically embraces his ‘partner’ and adds that in two days they will be on a plane "and away from here. You and me together. Away from this hell hole. A new beginning. A new life. The first few days we’ll barely leave the hotel. We’ll just stay in our room.” While the two men kiss, Vic tells Rico, “I love you” and he replies by saying the same exact thing he previously said to Laura, “I’ve never loved anyone so much. Never,” thus indicating he is probably a psychopath of sorts.
Of course, everything goes downhill for everyone involved when Rico makes the mistake of untying Laura from the bed while Vic is away. Indeed, while Rico is making out with Laura on the same exact bed that the little lady was just tied to, the poor little rich girl manages to handcuff him to a bedpost while he is naked and then she calls 911, though she has no idea where she is and thus cannot give the dispatcher her whereabouts. After the failed attempt at getting the police to rescue her, Laura finds a handgun on a table in the apartment, goes back into the makeshift dungeon room, and demands that her deceitful lover hand her the keys to the apartment so that she can escape. Ultimately, while acting like he is going to hand her the keys, Rico manages to drive his foot into Laura’s neck while he is still handcuffed to the bed. At this point, Laura attempts to shoot Rico but the gun still has the safety on and does not fire and her beau mocks her while choking her by stating, “Safety catch, stupid bitch.”
While Rico manages to get free, he becomes convinced that he has killed Laura after failing to resuscitate her after driving his feet into her throat to the point where she loses consciousness and he breaks down as a result, even barfing in the toilet as a result of shock (of course, he pukes out the bullet shell, so he is forced to swallow it again). When Vic gets back, he reveals to Rico that they are going to do the tradeoff with Laura’s father for the ransom money. While Vic manages to revive Laura when she initially fails to wake up, he still has no idea that something is out of the ordinary. After telling Rico to go get their van so that they can prepare to transport the girl to the drop off site, Vic goes to untie Laura and is in for quite the surprise when a cellphone falls out of her pocket which reveals that she has called 911. Although initially refusing to tell him where she got the phone, Laura soon spills the beans after Vic smacks her around a good bit and states regarding their mutual lover, “he’s going to screw you over.” While Laura tells Vic pretty much everything about Rico’s plans, the hardened criminal never gives any hint as to how he plans to respond to the situation. Before taking Laura to the drop-off sight, Vic acts somewhat passive-aggressively with Rico and then somewhat ironically says to him, “Goddammit, man. What would I do without you?” and gives him a loving hug. Of course, when Vic tells him he loves him, Rico replies, “Yeah. I love you more.”
After dropping off Laura at a dark half-ruined abandoned factory in the middle of nowhere where they handcuff her to a pipe, Vic takes Rico to a wooded region where the ransom money has been supposedly placed. When Vic has Rico look in a hole where the money is supposedly placed, he discovers nothing inside and complains “We’ve been screwed over,” but his comrade replies, “We haven’t been screwed over. I’ve been screwed over. By you.” Of course, at this point, Rico realizes that Vic has figured him out and begins pleading for his life like a little bitch by trying to prey on his comrade’s love for him by stating while sobbing, “Vic… remember at first in jail? I was scared. I was so scared, but you protected me. You, Vic. Vic, please. Believe me, you’re the only one. The only one for me.” As it turns out, Vic and Rico met and became gay lovers in prison, though it seems the latter adopted homosexuality as a form of ‘protection.’ Of course, the fact that Vic protected Rico in prison makes his betrayal all the more despicable. While Vic is portrayed as a sort of pathological psychopath for most of the film, he breaks down and begins sobbing while attempting to gather enough strength to liquidate his lover. Vic tells Rico regarding the consequences of his betrayal, “You know what you did? You’re dead and so is she. I have no choice,” adding regarding their dubious romance, “You’re tired of her and you’re a liar. Everything was fake. Everything. Douchebag. Every kiss, every time.” When Vic goes to ask Rico if he ever kissed Laura, the Arab homme fatale manages to push him and run away in the woods. While Rico manages to get away from Vic, he is severely wounded after his comrade manages to shoot him. As for who survives in the end and gets away with the money, I won’t give that spoiler away.
Of course, one of the greatest payoffs for the viewer during Reckless is when the two unwitting members of the bizarre love triangle both come to realize that their ostensible lover has another lover of a different gender. In that regard, I would not be surprised if some LGBT-lobotomized film critic goes on to describe the film as ‘homophobic’ and/or anti-bisexual propaganda just as certain ‘sensitive’ reviewers absurdly complained regarding Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992) when it was first released. While Lürsen’s film does not exactly portray homos as the morally superior and infallible perennial victims that the Hebraic cultural-distorters in Hollywood would have you believe they are, it is a rare film that manages to make so-called ‘queer’ themes accessible to the heterosexual majority, even if it manages to do so in a sort of deceptive way that makes it quite clear that source writer J Blakeson was desperate to make people embrace his sexual proclivities. Make no mistake about it, Reckless is certainly no masterpiece and is fairly mainstream as far as Dutch cinema comes, yet it makes a refreshing change from typical thriller genre twaddle, even if it does not exactly compare to a genre-revamping work like, say, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette (1976) in terms of thematic subversion. Surely, Reckless is the sort of thriller that Hollywood might produce if they had more faith in the intelligence of the American filmgoer and were not so concerned with portraying every single fag film character in a putridly positive light. Naturally, Hollywood would also not dare release a film where a brown man of dubious racial origins is portrayed as a considerably craven and despicably deceitful scumbag of the seemingly psychopathic sort who was the personal bitch boy of a white man while he was in prison. Of course, as the various half-caste bastard children in Europe and America certainly reveal, brown bro Rico’s romantically treacherous behavior with his white lovers in Reckless is arguably the most realistic and culturally redeeming aspect of the film, hence its innate superiority over Lürsen’s The Disappearance of Alice Creed.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 4:56 AM
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