“At a Caribbean resort, Kevin Riley (Eion Bailey, “Ray Donovan”) and his family take a carefree boat ride that turns tragic when they’re stranded on an island. Near death, they’re rescued by a local fisherman (Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips) who demands a million dollars, then vanishes. Now, Riley must race to find his dying wife (Bethany Joy Lenz, “Dexter”) and son on an unfamiliar island before their time runs out. Also starring Danny Glover (Saw). Extortion shows that even paradise can be deadly.”
We first meet the Riley family as they prepare for their vacation that is a long time coming. When Kevin wants to do something special for his wife and son, he rents a boat from a local who deals in cash and seems a bit shady. When the boat breaks down on an island they’ve decided to explore, Kevin and his family are stranded with no food or water, and no way to get word to the main-land that something is wrong.
As the family nears death, they are discovered by a local fisherman who gives them hope of rescue. When Kevin mentions he is a doctor, the fisherman decides he can extort money from Kevin and demands one million dollars in order for him to rescue his family. After agreeing to any price, the fisherman knocks out Kevin and takes him back to the mainland, leaving his family on the island as collateral.
Kevin calls everyone he knows to try and come up with the money, but comes up incredibly short. Although it is better than nothing, the fisherman agrees to take him back to the island, locking him in a separate boat, instructing him to follow him. In the middle of nowhere, the fisherman hops aboard the boat and punches several holes in the hull with Kevin still trapped inside the cabin. Luckily, Kevin escapes and makes it back to the mainland, involving the local police and United States Embassy, but they are hesitant to believe his story. Faced with a strict time limit before his family dies of dehydration, he takes it upon himself to track down the fisherman in order to find the location of his family.
Extortion has elements from so many different films and genres; it is genuinely a rollercoaster from start to finish, not only emotionally, but technically as well. As the film begins, the production value seems incredibly low, with questionable dubbing that seems a bit off, and writing that is a bit eye-rolling. As the film progresses, however, that all changes. What could have easily been a bland tale about a family becoming stranded on a deserted island takes an entirely new form, involving high-speed boat chases, mystery and suspense as Kevin becomes wanted for murder and is sought after by the police and U.S. Embassy, all while trying to track down the location of his family.
The acting is surprisingly good as well, Eion Bailey carries the film entirely on his shoulders while transitioning from a doctor from the suburbs to a desperate man on the run. Danny Glover doesn’t have an incredibly large role, and doesn’t bring anything exceptional to the film, but is a good addition. Barkhad Abdi, known for “I’m the Captain now.” in Captain Phillips is already typecast as a menacing character on the ocean. For the purpose of the role, the acting is fine, although I think he might have hit his ceiling.
Despite a slow beginning and unimpressive first act, Extortion really ramps it up in the rest of the film that left me enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind releasing it on DVD only was, but I believe they could’ve reached a much larger audience including a Blu-Ray release, and the film would’ve looked much better as a result. Despite this, Extortion delivers a surprising thrill-ride.
Extortion is presented in 16×9 Widescreen 2.40:1. The lack of Blu-Ray release will disappoint those who enjoy the film, as the quality of the video is disappointing without high definition. In terms of the DVD transfer itself, however, there are no defects noticed through the film.
The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. The track is well-balanced for the most part, with a surprisingly good score to it. As I mentioned earlier, in the beginning of the film, it looks as though the dubbing is off slightly, and level work on the dialogue wasn’t done very well. Despite the location of the characters on screen, all the dialogue sounds exactly the same level, which lacks a certain organic quality that is rather off-putting. This does seem to get better as the film progresses, and average movie-goers may not notice at all.
This release contains a couple very short features. These include:
- Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Phil Volken and Producer Alina Shraybman
- Behind the Scenes of Extortion
- Photo Gallery
- Trailer Gallery
If you can make it through the first act, Extortion will end up surprising you the direction the film ends up taking. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a decently entertaining film, even with the limited to DVD release.