VOD Releases: The Cutlass (2017) - Reviewed

Kidnappings are a global crime epidemic in many third world countries, where criminal organizations, local gangs, and small time crooks and street kids look to make some serious money. The kidnapping rate in Trinidad and Tobago has been steadily increasing since the early 2000’s, now ranking only behind Columbia in the rate of abductions. Inspired by true events, The Cutlass is a new thriller that tells the story of a young woman who is kidnapped and taken into the wilderness. It is a tense thriller that boasts stunning cinematography, and terrific performances from Lisa-Bel Hirschman and Arnold Goindhan. 

Joanna goes with her friends to Toco for the day, taking a break from helping care of her cancer-ridden father. Their fun is spoiled when a small time criminal named Al invades the house they’re at, robbing the group and taking Jo into the forest of Toco. Thinking that her family is excessively wealthy, Al seeks a ransom for her safe return. While the police work on ransom negotiations, Jo’s father heads into the wilderness to find her. There’s a great deal of social commentary going on in this dealing with socio-economic issues that plague many countries, not just Trinidad and Tobago or other third world ones. The poor part of society often feels a resentment to the ones that are wealthy, or even people that are just slightly better off then they are. The desire for something better can lead people down paths that they might not otherwise choose. 

This is the plight of Al, a petty criminal who has probably never had anything good happen in his life. He thinks that this big payday is somehow going to make his life better. It’s the common dream that every criminal in a heist movie has, that one big final score. Goindhan is outstanding as Al, delivering a nuanced and powerful performance. Al is a layered and tortured soul, who we feel sorry for and disgusted by. Hirschman also gives a fine performance as Jo. She is smart and strong, maintaining hope throughout her ordeal. Combined, they display a great onscreen rapport as an acting duo. 

The cinematography is outstanding, featuring beautiful aerial scenic shots of the Caribbean twin island country. We are treated to the gorgeous visuals of the ocean, beach, and mountainous areas, while also seeing the harshness that the  wilderness can present. Aside from some local music, the score is kept to a minimum and is treated almost like a documentary. 

Coming to VOD from Wild Eye Releasing, The Cutlass is a PG-13 style thriller that boasts some stunning cinematography and excellent performances from the two lead actors. It offers a message of hope and perseverance through whatever difficulties you may face. 

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