Good acting by the younger cast and eerily-enough production make this an
almost-adequate thriller movie. Unfortunately, the plot lacked many things to
make it truly interesting, especially as it neared the expected payoff.
I almost grudgingly gave this movie two stars, but it wasn't worth
it. It certainly wasn't great, and it was bordering on bad. But I
did enjoy some of it (and not only Sobieski's much-revealed cleavage).
Ruby was smart enough to figure things out. But everything she did was
sabotaged because the Glass's had too many contacts.
She was right to trust her feelings when Terry Glass was watching her
change, took an interest in her bikini-clad body, took her out for dinner, and
leaned provocatively over her to fasten her seatbelt. But for the most
part, it was the director who made those parts spooky, not the actor who
Ruby and Rhett lost their parents in a car crash, and they were assigned to
their guardians, the Glass's. The move to Malibu goes as expected, with
a few bumps in the road, but more-or-less alright. Strange things go on,
but most of these are perfectly explainable. These people are just weird!
They seem to be hovering right over the kids, spoiling them with video games
and clothing, and listening in on phone conversations and their locations.
What the movie really lacks is motivation. Sure Terry was in debt,
but what prompted him to have Ruby's parents killed in a car with faulty
brakes? Did he think he could swindle the bank out of their inheritance
so easily? What prompted his wife to start on drugs, so that she became
an addict? Why did Ruby's lawyer divulge her concerns to the
Glass's? He could have been much more discrete about inquiring into the
situation, even if he didn't believe her. He obviously told Terry about
the social worker's visit, too, so he could create separate rooms for the two
kids and remove all the drugs from the medicine cabinet. For that
matter, why put the kids in a single room at all? He shouldn't have made
Ruby suspicious by doing such suspicious things in the first
Ruby's lesson about things not being what they seemed was pretty much
wasted here. As she decides not to trust the car parked outside, it
doesn't matter, because the lawyer arrives. Then, when his betrayal
seems like it could really hurt, the loan sharks arrive, and kill him,
thinking he is the reason why they didn't get their money.
Though Ruby started out being so smart, catching on to clues and even going
so far as to steal the car before fate intervened (why didn't the police press
charges, or even ask Terry for ID?), by the end she was as typical for a
thriller female as possible. She shrieks at the drugged up (possibly
dead?) woman who ends up on her bed, but doesn't leave the house at that
time. She calls the loan shark (smart), but waits until Terry arrives
back before retrieving her brother and trying to leave. By then, it's
too late. How about calling the police instead? By then, Rhett is
also paranoid. Was it because the Glass's drugged Ruby up for a
month? The first time she tried to steal him away, he fought against
her. The next time, he's almost already packed. What changed
Then there's Ruby's friends. They complain that she hasn't called
them for a month, and write her off. Did they ever call her? Did
Ruby or Rhett ever get to answer the phone? Apparently Ruby had a cell
phone in her other school. Didn't she get to bring it with her, even if
she had to keep it off at the new school?
In any case, the lawyer gets his due for breaking Ruby's confidence, in
that he's killed. Ruby barely lets out a grimace for him, though
-probably the first murder she's ever witnessed. And Terry is also
killed, though like a typical villain, he keeps coming back to life. His
loan sharks take him on a "ride", using the car that he sabotaged
for the kids. I thought he said he needed one live child to get the
money. But by sabotaging the car, he could probably have lost both of
them. Then the money would have been turned over to the state, not
him. But because the car has no brakes, it first smashes into the sports
car the other loan shark is driving (couldn't that car outrun the one that
kept ramming him? It probably could have handled 300 km/h!), causing it
to be destroyed by a passing truck, and then drives over a cliff. Terry
survives. He knocks out a police officer, steals his gun, and knows that
the kids are in the police car up on the road. So he goes to them, but
Ruby is able to start the police car (when did the policeman have time to put
his keys in the sunvisor?) and run Terry over!
The lack of follow-up is even worse than the lack of motivation. It
was stated repeatedly that the kids would become custody of the state if
something happened to the Glass's. Will they now be separated?
Will their money be frozen because of the suspicious circumstances? Will
Ruby call her friends, now?
This is too bad, because the movie started out alright. It was never
great, but the characters seemed to have some depth, and the story of a
rebellious teen whom the guardian seemed to be interested in sexually and
monetarily could have been interesting. The production values were also
impressive, which almost fooled me into giving this movie a passing
mark. If only.
As a DVD, there were no impressive extras. Short interviews with cast
and director that were way too short, a deleted scene with no explanation as
to why it was deleted, and commentary that was even more boring than the
middle of the movie, lead me to ask, what's the point?