The first act of Kidnapping Stella is taut and tense

Faithfully adapted from J Blakeson’s “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”, Kidnapping Stella opens with Tom (Max von der Groeben) looking up at a plastic bag flying freely while his partner, Vic (Clemens Schick) is seen stealing a car in the background. Tom looks at it with the unwavering focus, as if it metaphorize his uncertain future. The two ex-convicts meticulously collect all the materials required for their mission; to make a secluded room soundproof; kidnap a girl without any fuss.

The scene continues uninterrupted, without any dialogue for the next ten minutes, where they kidnap a girl on a roadside and keep her hostage in the room that has a series of locks on the door. Michael comb’s unnerving score keeps the tension tight, and we subsequently pick up the clues about the characters that help to know them better.

Jella Haase in Kidnapping Stella 2019

Tom’s emoting eyes gives an insight into his personality. He is a vulnerable person who is unsure about the plan from the beginning. He is harbouring a secret that might dislodge the well-planned kidnapping. Vic, on the other end, is not in touch with his feelings and come across as your cold brute who would not flinch to shoot if anything goes wrong.

The film-maker Thomas Sieben, popular for ‘Distanz (2009)’, is less interested in the dynamics between Tom and Vic and the whole ransom deal, and instead, nourishes the narrative with an organic development between Tom & Stella. The turn of events in the film are unimaginative and predictable but keeps you hooked to the narrative is the interpersonal and individual’s emotional arc that endanger the full-proof plan.

An underwritten character and unimaginative narrative 

As the hidden motive of the characters come to surface, the plot gets murkier, and we see characters in the new light. If you have already seen “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” then you won’t find anything new in this official remake. Thomas Sieben also includes even the most unconvincing patch in the narrative, without improving on it. The character of the Vic also underutilized in the film. The character is underwritten and used only as a conflict in the narrative. It feels derivate and forced.

‘Kidnapping Stella’ is a sleek kidnapping thriller that doesn’t waste time on extraneous subplots. It benefits from the matured performance of Max von der Groeben and Jella Haase. But it lacks in originality and solid screenwriting in the second act to fully realise the climax of the film. It could make for a solid lazy Saturday afternoon watch.

Kidnapping Stella Rating: ★★★★★

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Official Synopsis: Snatched off the street and held for ransom, a bound and gagged woman uses her limited powers to derail her two masked abductors’ carefully laid plans.
Cast: Jella Haase, Clemens Schick, Max von der Groeben
Director: Thomas Sieben
Writer: Thomas Sieben
Running Time: 89 minutes
Language: German
Available on Netflix
Links: IMDb

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