Yet another thriller preying on Americans’ travel xenophobia and audience fears of losing a child — two of the genre’s more pervasive, exploitative hooks in recent years — “Reclaim” casts Ryan Phillippe and Rachelle Lefevre as Chicago yuppies who travel to Puerto Rico to adopt a Haitian orphan. Little do they realize until it’s too late that the operation is a scam, of which their vaguely sleazy hotel neighbor (John Cusack) is one malevolent part. Alan White’s polished but pedestrian pic mines little real suspense and few surprises from a formulaic script. Opening on 10 scattered U.S. screens Sept. 19, simultaneous with VOD release, this looks to be a blip on the theatrical horizon, but should score decent home-format sales as a passable name-cast time killer.
Having suffered a car accident that cost her a pregnancy and the ability to conceive again, Shannon Mayers (Lefevre) is in Puerto Rico with her husband, Steven (Phillippe), to pick up the earthquake-orphaned Haitian girl they’ve arranged to adopt through Intl. Rescue Adoption, an organization run by one Mrs. Reigert (Jacki Weaver). But after a few days of bonding, 7-year-old Nina (Briana Roy) disappears, along with the agency’s phone, office and website. A San Juan police detective (Luis Guzman) assigned to the case informs the couple that they’ve been ripped off in a fairly common confidence scheme.
But the couple — especially Shannon — refuse to give up on their little girl. Trying to track her whereabouts, they find themselves kidnapped at gunpoint by a suspicious trio (Cusack, Veronica Faye Foo and Jandres Burgos) who have been a little too omnipresent/friendly since their arrival. These criminals have done their homework and, having realized Steven and Shannon have access to considerably more cash than the tens of thousands they’ve already forked over for Nina, plan to hold them captive until they can transfer larger funds from the U.S.
A lengthy chase on foot, then by automobile, livens up “Reclaim” a bit in its final half-hour or so, albeit without providing anything truly memorable. The level of imagination on tap here is such that we get a literal cliffhanger — i.e., that always-hokey gambit of a car perched perilously on a cliffside, with passengers desperately trying to climb out before the teetering vehicle plunges them to their death.
Perfs are competent, but the by-numbers material doesn’t encourage anything more; Guzman and Weaver get only a couple of scenes each. Design and tech aspects are solid.