Corrupt Mayors And Betrayals
Bruce Von Stiers
Crime drama films will often use tried and true plot devices like bank robberies, drug dealing or extortion. Every so often a film of that genre will focus on an issue that has its basis in fact and is very troubling.
Such is the case of the film Betrayed. The film deals with human trafficking and women being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. And the criminal elements involved in this process.
There were four production companies behind the film. They were Vision Films, Painted Creek Productions, Caribbean Fury Productions and Auburn Moon Productions.
The film begins with a few statistics about missing children. And how many are endangered runaways that become victims of sex trafficking. At the time of the production, it was estimated that over 14,000 people are the victims of sex trafficking each year in the U.S. The number of victims worldwide are exponentially higher.
The film then moves forward with a scene where a couple of guys are trying to get two girls to go with them somewhere. The girls decline and the guys leave. Then all of a sudden a couple of other guys grab the girls and force them into a van. This sets up the crime angle for the film.
John Savage plays the mayor of the city. From his breakout role in The Deer Hunter to recently guest starring on SEAL Team, Savage has had a long and varied career.
The mayor is in bed with both a Russian criminal and a Mexican cartel. The Russian, it seems, is behind the abductions of several young woman in the city. And that the mayor is somehow profiting from that criminal enterprise.
The Russian is Mikhail Kovalchek. He is played by Harley Wallen. Wallen wrote the story for the film and was also the producer and director for it.
The body of a young woman is found and two police detectives investigate her death. The detectives are Sandra Miller (Aphrodite Nikolovski) and Alex Redford (Jennifer Jelsema). Both of these actors have been in other films that Wallen has directed and produced.
As the story moves forward, there's a guy Mike Wolf, who may cheat at cards and is kind of a tough guy. And there is the mayor's daughter, Marie, who thinks the whole world revolves around her father. Wolf is played by Billy Wirth and Kaiti Wallen is Marie.
The mayor seems to be enjoying compensation from both the Russian and the Mexicans. He tells the Mexicans that he is going to shut down the Russian. But he finds it isn't going to be very easy to do so.
A chance meeting between Mikhail and Marie cultivates into her being kidnapped by him. Not only could Marie be used as leverage, she could be sold off as a sex slave.
Most of the rest of the film moves between the detectives finding the killer of the young woman and finding what happened to Marie. Mikhail is a pretty nasty dude and won't stop at anything to get what he wants. And the other criminals that circulate in the film aren't choir boys either. At least according to a line in one of the scenes.
There is quite a bit of violence in the film. Most of it isn't overly graphic. But there are a few times where a person is shown with a bullet hole in their forehead. And there were a couple of gratuitous sex scenes with Mikhail, one with a stripper and the other with a club girl. But neither scene had actual nudity in them.
One of the subplots in the film involves the police detective, Sandra Miller. She was a friend of Marie's and had been with her just before Marie disappeared. And Miller apparently has some kind of relationship with Wolf.
As far as a crime drama, the film wasn't too bad. There was the standard bad guy, Mikhail, and the corrupted mayor. A requisite number of other bad guys were sprinkled throughout the film. And you weren't too sure during the course of the film whose side the detectives were on, especially Miller. And there's also this guy named Stone (Richard Tyson) who is a really bad guy who is right in the middle of things.
Some of the actors in the film include TJ Storm, Blanca Blanco, Yan Birch, and Nick Sarelli. Sean Rey has a role as Darryl, a bad guy who has a change of heart, sort of. Other actors in the film were Jerry Hayes, Calhoun Koenig, Mara Kanyon, Angelina Danielle Cama, Jessika Johnson, Shelby Bradley and Damian Chinappi.
Additional actors for the film included Brian Heintz, Joe Piazza, Colleen Gentry, Lauren Bower, Kara Komer, Brittany Eden, Kayden Brice, Kara Joy Reed, Morgan Nimmo, Jordan Prisby, Kayla Sharp, Julia Kate Ouellette, Da''Maya Gogoua and Sami Skeene.
As for the production staff for Betrayed, Nancy Oeswein was a co-producer and second assistant director. Michael Scott was the first assistant director. Michael Kettenbeil was the director of photography and editor for the film. There were a few others that worked on the film who had also been involved in other projects with Harley Wallen.
This was an independent production so some of the polished effects of a major studio release weren't there. But it actually fit better as this seemed like it was supposed to be a bit gritty.
The film could have done a bit more on the actual sex trafficking angle of the film, but it does have a scene where someone comes to look over the women that Mikhail had kidnapped and put up for sale. And the film does end with a statistic stating the revenue generated by the underground sex industry in two U.S. cities in a 2014 Urban Institute report. And that the average age of a teen entering the sex trade is 12 to 14 years old. And that many are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children. Globally the average cost of a sex slave is $ 90.
Overall, I liked Betrayed. The acting was done fairly well, with no overacting or too sloppy actions or dialog. The addition of John Savage added a nice touch to the casting as well. The story might have been beefed up a little but it still wasn't too bad.
The film had a release date of October 2018. It has a runtime of one hour, thirty eight minutes. It is currently listed as unrated.
Betrayed is available on most streaming services and also as a DVD release at retailers like Barnes & Noble.
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© 2020 Bruce E Von Stiers