Life is about self-control and when we are in control of ourselves we are able to treat all other human beings with respect, not objectifying them or using them for our own benefit.
“I wasn’t going to go anyway. You know they’re only after one thing.”
“Yeah, guys are pigs . . .”
We were recently asked to review Harley Wallen’s new crime thriller Betrayed (2018). We took on the project because we heard it had something to do with sex trafficking and the objectification of women, or any human being, is something we are willing to fight against with both pen and fist. Whether it is individuals who take advantage of women prostitutes in Thailand or in brothels in Mound House, Nevada, we need to understand that it’s not just about sex. It’s about out of control people who want power and money at other people’s expense, and people who are not in control of their own urges and desires often find a way to force their own wants and desires on others in a very destructive fashion.
Betrayed (2018) was a good example of a whole slew of people who were unable to control themselves and therefore unable to control the world they had created around them.
It all begins with the Mayor of Detroit, Mayor Alderman, played by John Savage. He believed he could take money from the Russian mob without consequence and use it to gain power and control in the city he is elected to care for. The Russian mob is into kidnapping young women and girls and using them as drug mules and selling them as sex slaves. When Alderman discovers that he can’t control the Russian mob and prevent them from doing what they do, he brings in the Cartel, getting the money he needs from them, so he can prosecute the Russians. Good luck, Mr. Mayor.
For added protection the Mayor gets a mercenary for hire, Mike Wolf, played by Billy Worth, involved in an attempt to control both the Russian mobster and the Cartel. Now, Wolf is a really capable guy, and Worth is a great actor, but I think we are asking a little much of him, don’t you?
The head of the Russian mob, Mikhail Kovalchek, played by Harley Wallen, had been free to do as he pleased, but he is now forced to control his men, the drugs and the women he is trafficking, while the Mayor and the Cartel try to take him out. To stay in control he decides to kidnap the Mayor’s daughter.
The Mayor’s daughter, Marie Alderman, wants to have a little fun and decides to party at a local club which she knows should be off limits. Not wise. What she doesn’t know is that the club is owned and run by the Russian mobster. Good luck, Marie.
This is the plot in a nut shell, so let’s talk about what this movies succeeds in doing. Harley Wallen did a fantastic job in his role as the Russian mobster, Mikhail Kovalchek. Mikhail’s calculating callousness creates a deep seated fear in the viewer. At one point in the film, Mr. Stone, played by Richard Tyson, says about Mikhail “he isn’t wired like the rest of us,” this is an understatement. I can guarantee that the next time I run into Harley Wallen, I won’t be seeing Harley Wallen, but rather Mikhail Kovalchek. I will keep my distance. Good job, Harley Wallen.
Sean Rey did a convincing job as Darrel, a guy taken in by the mobster as a kid. One of his lines was most profound. He said, “I’m going to tell you something, there’s no dark side, there’s no light side, it’s just shades of gray.” “He still had a conscience, but he understood the reality he lived in and the consequences of his actions and the actions of those around him.
John Savage is a fine actor and great as a Mayor Alderman. Mayor Alderman is willing to do anything to keep control, but he is so naive about the consequences. Kaiti Wallen, who plays the Mayor’s daughter, isn’t exactly an ingénue, but she plays the part of the “Mayors” daughter and the terrified kidnap victim with the right amount of passion, and when push comes to shove, she does what is necessary to attempt to survive.
On the whole, the acting in the film is really good, even if some of the dialogue is a bit disparaging. We all know a tight script is a must if a film is to move along flawlessly. I do have to say that a few of the lines in Betrayed (2018) summed the film up perfectly such as when “Nurse” Melanie, (Blanca Blanco), says to the Russian, Karpov, (Damien Chinappi), “and keep your little worm in your pants, okay.”
I was told ahead of time that Betrayed (2018) was not really an action film, but since martial artists Harley Wallen, Walbert Beltran, and TJ Storm were in the film, I had expectations of some good fight scenes. I was “betrayed” however, as the film was definitely “missing in action”! This was probably due to the script more than the fight choreography. Even the scenes that could have been very powerful fight scenes where disappointing. The “underground fight” scene between Alpha, played by TJ Storm, and the opponent, played by Garrett Thierry, could have added some real quality action to the film, but it doesn’t. I’m sure this scene was meant to allow the building of Alpha’s character, but its fails the film in so many ways.
Besides the many fight scenes that “could have been,” I also wish that particular women in the film could have been stronger where it was warranted. I’m referring to the women detectives who promised to “kick his ass” but floundered the first time they were confronted. Their police training should have made them stronger, wiser, and quicker, even if they get overpowered. At first they “fought like girls”.
One action scene I did appreciate took place in the Mayor’s house and included the Mayor, his daughter, the Russian mobster and his protege Melanie. I did not expect The Mayor’s daughter to take the control she did. This was awesome, though violent and short lived, but it gives the NRA one point. The bad guys will always have guns, so the good guys have to be better trained and armed if they want to survive.
There were also a few scenes that could have changed the pace of the film, but didn’t. One of those was the scene at the Fox Trot Club. We were expecting what should have been a “hot spot,” a “club on fire”, instead the scene was just as slow as the scene before and the scene after, even with the confrontation by the jilted boyfriend. The pool hall scene had a more festive atmosphere.
The press conference scene is another that fizzled. The scene is the cross examination of the Mayor by the press about his donor’s ties to the disappearing girls, but the scene falls flat, never building enough tension. The same happens when the Mayor is confronted by citizens about the disappearing girls. We really need to see and hear the anger of the crowd, not just one guy to show the tension building in the city.
It’s the little things that make a good movie and changes in pace throughout a film are really important.
Believability is also important and the film falls short when the cops, who are way too laid back, appear to naively think they can get something incriminating from the Russians. We all know it’s not going to happen. These characters need to come alive earlier in the film, be more creative and help build some real suspense. Their strength doesn’t come through until the end.
I can’t pass up discussing the music used in Betrayed (2108). Composer Kaizad Patel did a fine job scoring the film, setting the tone with the very first deep, penetrating notes.
Life is really about self-control and self-control means controlling our urges and desires in a way that allows us to treat all other human beings with respect. So many of the characters in this film lack even basic self-control and Betrayed (2018) proves that in a world where people lack self-control and use others for their own benefit, life will suck, and most likely end early.