Sometimes, all it takes is a refreshing point of view on a well-known concept to make it new and interesting again. How many times have we see movies about kidnappers, tortured victims and ransom cases that are unrealistically and too-easily solved? Each results in a bloodbath, the good guys win, and the bad guys die. Think back to Mel Gibson's 'Ransom.' That's how every one of these films plays out. Usually.
'Rapt' is one of those rare refreshing looks into the kidnapping sub-genre. It looks more at the psychological effects of kidnapping than falling back to the "who-done-it" action-packed take on it. Stanislas Graff (Stan) is the chairman of an extremely successful corporation. From the outside, his life looks perfect. He's a millionaire, he has two cute daughters and a loving wife, and he's very good at his job. But when Stan is kidnapped, investigators uncover more about his life than any single person knew. Stan is addicted to gambling and has lost a large chunk of the family's wealth, he's been having a long-running affair with a mistress, and things at work aren't nearly as great as he's made them out to be.
After being bound, gagged, and blindfolded by his kidnappers, Stan is handed off to several vehicles at several locations to keep from being tracked or reported. After a long day in the trunk of a car, Stan is pulled out and dragged to the pitch black dungeon-like basement of an old rundown school in the middle of nowhere. Upon arriving at his new home, a base camp-like tent, his kidnappers make him write his own ransom letter, then chop off the middle finger of his left hand to mail out with the letter, proving to the family that they mean business.
Because no one knew of Stan's gambling habits before the kidnapping, everyone assumed that he was beyond wealthy. For that reason, the kidnappers won't release Stan for anything less than 50 million euros – only he's not worth 50 million euros anymore. His bad gambling habits have left him with less than half of that. Trying to prolong his doomed life, he doesn't reveal this information to his kidnappers because if they find out that he doesn't have what they're asking for, he'll be killed immediately.
At the same time, we follow Stan's family, co-workers, and the police investigation to find the assailants. As the story unfolds, we begin to wonder who is more damaged, the man with a stumpy middle finger living in an obscure basement tent with constant violence threatening him or the family that is also confined to their home by wary detectives? Stan's family is stuck watching the news all day. They look for signs of hope, but the media only focuses on the "celebrity" aspect of Stan's life and revels more in the gossip of gambling, addiction, and sex than the investigation at hand. Who is psychologically more damaged and broken, Stan or his family?
As time passes, the situation certainly gets more intense. Stan's kidnappers begin to play mind games with him, the police plot some dangerous and playful ways to track down the culprits and 'Rapt' goes down a road that we've never seen this genre drive down before. It's not the greatest movie ever made, but it breathes fresh air into an all too familiar genre. It takes the opposite route that Hollywood would use. Because of that, 'Rapt' is worth watching. Mark another point on the scoreboard for foreign filmmaking for showing Hollywood how to make a recycled story creative and original again, something that our domestic filmmakers rarely seem to try.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber has placed 'Rapt' on a BD-50 in a standard blue keepcase that horizontally slides into a thick, sturdy box-like slipcase. I wish more Blu-rays came in this classy packaging. Upon inserting the disc, you're only forced to watch an FBI warning and a brief Kino Lorber vanity reel before getting to the main menu.
'Rapt' makes its American Blu-ray debut with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Although not taken from the cleanest print, it's still crisp enough to get the job done.
With the opening credits set to a deep black backdrop, it's immediately evident that this isn't the cleanest transfer. Small white specs and scratches lightly pepper the black screen. There's not a lot of visible dirt throughout the film, but it is a minor issue that's usually only noticeable during dark scenes.
More than you'll notice the specks, you'll be impressed by the high detail consistently found throughout the whole film. As Stan plays high stakes poker in a smoke-filled room lit with an interrogation lamp, you'll notice fine details in the texture of the felt-topped table, the barely-raised patten on the deck of playing cards and the pores and imperfections on the facial skin of the players. This level of detail never lets up. From the make-shift taped-over ski goggle mask Stan is forced to wear to miniscule specks of dusty hovering in front of a car's headlights parked in the woods – everything is textured, detailed and sharp. The detail reveals every dent and scratch in a wooden surface and every pit and bump on a cinder block wall. It's a truly impressive amount of fine detail for a domestic release of a foreign film.
Fleshtones are natural and real. As time passes, Stan's color disappears from having been locked away out of the sun for so long. Because the movie is grim, the palette is plain, lacking color, but when colors are present, they pop. For the most part, blacks are deep and rich, but at times appear like a dark shade of gray due to contrast levels. It may not be the most consistent quality, but it isn't exactly a constant problem either.
Be sure to turn on the English subtitles because the only audio track on this Blu-ray is a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in French.
While the video quality of 'Rapt' truly shines, the audio quality is lacking. Unless filled with its fantastic orchestral score, the surround and rear channels are hardly ever utilized. Aside from a few sirens and other fleeting sounds, the surround are rear channels are never used for effects, simply music. There's also a noticeable lack of bass within the 5.1 track. My powered Onkyo sub-woofer has a red light on the front that turns blue whenever engaged. For the majority of 'Rapt,' the light stayed red. For a few occasional scenes whenever a heavy truck would rumble into the frame, the light would flip over to blue for a few seconds – but that was it. Not even the score would keep it engaged.
However, when the sound worked, it really worked. The score throws you in the middle of the orchestra, making it sound like you are sitting in the perfect center. Each instrument's note sounds like they're hitting you at the same time, harmonizing in that perfect precise location. If only this music mixing amount of detail could be put into all concert Blu-rays!
'Rapt' is worthy of watching for two reasons: one, it takes something old and familiar (the kidnapping/detective genre), gives it a fresh new take, avoids predictability and cliches, and makes you look at it from an angle you've probably never considered; and two, despite a few minor flaws with dirt and contrast/black levels, the picture quality is sharp eye candy. The generally flat audio quality features a second-to-none score mix that adds to the tension of the story at hand, which will keep you from losing any attention at all during this slowly paced occasionally thrilling drama.