Clive Owen is a more-or-less happily married man with a daughter who needs a super-expensive kidney transplant. He meets Jennifer Aniston on a commuter train to Chicago, and a romantic spark is kindled. They go to a seedy hotel and are about to get it on, when a mugger breaks into the room, beats him up, and rapes her repeatedly. He thinks it is over, but the mugger calls him up and blackmails him for $10,000. The idiot pays it, only to find that the next demand is for $100,000, the kidney transplant money. Can’t go much deeper into the plot because there are several surprises along the way, of such a fundamental nature that if you know about them, there would be little point in watching the movie. Suffice it to say that they faked me out completely, and that the last little plot twist was infinitely satisfying.
But it does leave me longing for a movie where the “ordinary guy” faced with a clearly homicidal killer wises up a lot sooner than they usually do. Here, as in most movies of this type, Clive wanders passively through the horrors that have descended on his life, always taking the meek path that anyone with an ounce of sense could see will only lead you deeper into the hole you’re standing in. I would like to see a story where the hero sheds his scruples early on, particularly when his family is threatened, as it is here. Take the fight to the bad guy, don’t just sit around reacting. I think such a story could sell a lot of tickets. It’s one reason why the old Charles Bronson movie, Death Wish, did so well. I think that most of us, in our guts, understand that there are many situations where the police just can’t help us. And if you do think they can, you would quickly come to the realization that in the real world, the police are not primarily there to protect you. Sure, they will if they can, but much of the time they just can’t. The main function of the police is to catch someone after he has committed a crime. And then it’s too late for you, if the crime is murder. You have to take the law into your own hands when threatened with murder. I would go so far as to say that if you don’t, you are derelict in your duty to yourself and your family. Just be sure not to get caught!