Directed by: Harley Wallen
Starring: Billy Wirth, John Savage, Richard Tyson, TJ Storm, Harley Wallen, Kaiti Wallen, Aphroditie Nikolovski, Jennifer Jelsema
In the city of Detroit, the Russian Mob's latest racket is kidnapping young women and trafficking them around the world. This is upsetting the mayor, who is being paid to look the other way but is feeling a lot of heat as each abduction brings more exposure and public outcry. He decides to make a power-play, and try to force the Russians to back down, but it backfires and results in the kidnapping of his own daughter, Marie. The mayor turns to a shady Contractor called Mike Wolf to help get his daughter back. Meanwhile, two female detectives are investigating a series of homicides involving young women who've seem to have overdosed on heroin…
Betrayed is an ambitious project which has a bit too much going on for its own good, and there are plusses and minuses both in front and behind the camera.
The film starts by giving the audience a glimpse as to what the mayor is up against, as two young women are brutally abducted outside a club, never to be seen again. It speaks to the callous cold-hearted nature of the Russian gang and their ruthless efficiency. It's a shame that the film can't maintain the same pace throughout the film.
Instead we get a lot of lengthy dialogue scenes - the Mayor fretting over the Russians, then contacting the Columbians and telling them his whole plan, then the Columbians going to the Russians and telling them the Mayor's whole plan. Three lengthy scenes conveying the same lengthy exposition. We also get an early intro to Mike Wolf, played by Billy Wirth and looking a lot like Elias Koteas in Chicago PD.
Mixed into this are scenes with two detectives, Sandra Miller and Alex Redford, investigating a series of dead bodies cut open and left in alleyways. At first it looks like the girls died of drug overdoses but the coroner discovers a more nefarious reason for their deaths. This procedural plot is my favourite element of the film, and I was always happy when the action cut back to these two.
The main problem with Betrayed is a similar one to Robin Hood: The Rebellion, in that the quality of action on screen is very poor. There are some small fights here and there but no one seems to be landing any punches. TJ Storm is introduced taking part in an underground fight tournament which is badly lit and staged. There are some shoot-outs but no bullet squibs, muzzle flashes or even at times sound-effects. One particular character's death loses impact because its shot and edited in a very muddled manner.
The acting standard is pretty decent, and a lot of characters (the cast is huge for a low-budget film, by the way) get some lengthy dialogue scenes to get their teeth into. Aphrodite Nikolovski and Jennifer Jelsema definitely stood out as the female detectives but Billy Wirth was also enjoyable and director Harley Wallen also played Mikael, making sure the character is not someone you want to mess with.
With a low budget film you have to accept that you're not likely to be watching a polished film, and there are always going to be some rough edges. However I feel that Betrayed is struggling in two main areas - too much plot and not enough attention to the action when it occurs. I feel there are two films in here fighting for screen time, which is why the film is too long by about 15 minutes. Pairing down the story and bulking up the action would have improved this immeasurably but there is enough here for me to consider checking out Wallen's next film.