Next up in the Fantasia Festival line-up is Kidnap Capital, a movie that was compared to Sicario as it also tackles the subject of human smuggling. Kidnap Capital is based on real stories. It takes a different angle from Sicario and in my opinion, not to be compared because it is not the same. Kidnap Capital was hosted by director Felipe Rodriguez, cast members Pedro Miguel Arce, Michael Reventar and Juan Carlos Velis along with cinematographer Boris Mojsovski, film editor Julia Blua and composer Norman Orenstein.
Kidnap Capital (2016)
Director and writer: Felipe Rodriguez
Cast: Paulino Nunes, Johnathan Sousa, Michael Reventar, Pedro Miguel Arce, Michael A. Miranda, Michelle Arvizu, Lara Gilchrist
Kidnap Capital is an intense ninety minutes movie experience that pulls you into a man, Manolo who has been smuggled into America with his pregnant wife. The men and women are separated upon arrival with others and locked into a room in a drophouse in Arizona. The only way to be released is simple: pay up. One way or another, you pay with money or maybe eventually with your life. Kidnap Capital is claustrophobic and takes the angle of what goes on in a drophouse. In fact during the Q&A, they mentioned that one of the extra characters had gone through something like this and talked about how genuine the set and the feeling they recreated was.
Kidnap Capital sucks you right into the movie. It doesn’t give you time to breathe or think. Much like each of the characters here. They all don’t talk a lot and many times, the things they do and say defines their character. In the heart of this, we learn about the lives of the captors and the captives. Each has their own stories and the captives all embody the feeling of leaving for a better life that sadly did not happen. Among themselves, there are prejudices and anger and desperate situations. It is an enthralling experience that brings a grave situation to light, while remembering to focus on the captives and their stories and never diving into the political issues. In fact the setting of this movie revolves most of the time within the drop house in the closed space and only momentarily outside. With that said, the setting itself gave a special touch to the entire feeling and atmosphere of Kidnap Capital.
One of the most captivating parts of Kidnap Capital are the characters. Seeing as the setting is about smuggled human beings that happen in groups, a scene opens with the scene on top. Some of been there a long time and others are newcomers like our main guy here, Manolo, played by Johnathan Sousa. It is fair to talk about him because this guy wants to escape to save his wife that is just outside and he goes through quite a bit of change in this whether its desperation to utter despair. With him is a weaker though larger man, Pedro (played by Pedro Miguel Arce) who they met on the way to America. Even in the room as they wait for their inevitable turn with the boss Wyler (Paulino Nunes) who has a heart to heart with them about how they can get out and his ways of reiterating that along with his goons, some characters are calm and patient, others have gone downright crazy and others are menacing and self-absorbed. This takes us to a well-crafted character like Michael Reventar’s Rico, just like the character of Pedro. Life endangering situations brings something different out in everyone. This is one of the reasons why Kidnap Capital is so intense to watch because it takes no time for us to care about the characters, the captives here before we start fearing for their lives. This goes down to stellar performances from the entire cast.
On the other side, the captors in this case get a lot of screen time as well. Wyler is the boss and we soon learn that he is also trapped in this situation. At times, it did feel like it was meant for us to grow sympathetic on the tough choices he had to make. However, he never moves away from being able to take the situation in his own hands as it approaches getting into a time crunch for him to recuperate the money needed. This man is scary because he is unpredictable. One minute he will be nice and manipulative but it can all turn around and the measures he takes to get his point through are harsh and brutal. His presence becomes menacing to watch. In that, Kidnap Capital works because it is unpredictable. We never know who Wyler will choose as his next captive to talk to. There is a clear division between him and the captives and us as the audience gets to see both sides of the situation and be worried before our characters even are.
Kidnap Capital is a unique and genuine thriller. It captures the desperation of its characters and the situation. It brings to light a grave situation while focusing on its victims. Kidnap Capital takes us into four days of agony and despair, hopelessness and fear of these people who hoped for an escape to something better but ended up in something much worse. It is a raw, intense and especially claustrophobic movie experience filled with captivating performances. Kidnap Capital is a must-see!