14th Jan2019

‘Betrayed’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: John Savage, Richard Tyson, Billy Wirth, T.J. Storm, Harley Wallen, Kaiti Wallen, Yan Birch, Blanca Blanco, Aphrodite Nikolovski, Sean Rey, Damien Chinappi | Written and Directed by Harley Wallen

betrayed-poster

Independent filmmaker Harley Wallen, whose film Bennett’s Song was something of a surprisingly sweet old-shool family film, is back both in front of and behind the camera for Betrayed – a film that rips its story straight from the headlines to create a thriller that deals with Russian involvement in US politics, missing persons and sex traffiking.

The plot goes something like this: in an effort to control the city the Mayor of Detroit opens the doors to the Russian Mob (bad idea). It’s not long until he realizes they aren’t going to follow his rules, instead kidnapping women and traffiking them for sex. To fix the problem the Mayor (John Savage) accepts an offer to set up the Russians and open the door for the Cartel. However the Russians get wind of his plan and kidnap the Mayors daughter in revenge.

Now that SOUNDS, on paper, like a pretty decent crime thriller and in the hands of a cast and crew with more experience and a bigger budget that might have been true. However this film has none of that and makes numerous mistakes both in storytelling and filmmaking and ultimately comes across as just dumb… For example the mayors daughter gets kidnapped from right behind a cop, literally! Harley Wallen spends most of his time either looking broodingly at the rest of the cast or hanging around, and shagging, strippers (though the scene where he receives head from a stripper is EXTRA dumb – it looks like a spoof of these types of scenes rahter than the real thing, with the actresses head bobbing up and down at the bottom of the screen)! Richard Tyson, as a mob boss, spends most of the film sitting in an armchair chatting sh*t to other gangsters! Then we get a random sub-plot about underground fighting that does nothing but extend the films running time!

The real problem comea down to execution. Whilst Betrayed has some real ambition, especially when it comes to trying to put the focus on missing persons in the US, the film can’t back up that amibition. Instead of hard-hitting action and a gritty look at sex traffiking we get lengthy dialogue scenes that slow the films pace to a crawl; and as for the scenes with the kidnapped women… well I get that Wallen was trying to make the situation look harrowing by having the girls caged up and crying but the scene is lit like an 80s pop video. I have expected the women to crawl out of the cages and start dancing!

Betrayed is not all bad however. There are some highlights – mainly in the cast. Billy Wirth, as the Mayors personal “investigator”-come-hitman is fantastic; as are Aphrodite Nikolovski and Jennifer Jelsema as the two female police detectives assigned to the missing persons/sex traffiking case. But a few great performances can’t make up for this films shortcomings. Ultimately the film is too long, too stilted and too amateur-hour to have any real impact, making Betrayed a real comedown from Bennett’s Song for Wallen. Here’s hoping his next couple of movies, Agramons Gate and Abeyance, don’t suffer the same fate.

Betrayed is available on DVD and VOD across the US now.

 

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