Nobel Son

Writer/director Randall Miller must be a great guy to work with. That’s the only possible explanation for how he managed to snag such an amazing cast for “Nobel Son,” a headache-inducing thriller every bit deserving of its direct-to-DVD sentence. Though Miller isn’t exactly new to the business (he directed his share of bad comedies in the 90s), it’s still quite a feat to go from the land of made-for-TV movies to working with the likes of Alan Rickman in back-to-back projects. Their 2008 film, “Bottle Shock,” was one of the best reviewed entries at Sundance last year, but just because “Nobel Son” is about an award doesn’t mean it’s on the same level.

Rickman plays Dr. Eli Michaelson, a narcissitic college chemistry professor who is delighted to discover that he’s won the Nobel Prize. While away in Stockholm to accept his award, his disappointment of a son, Barkley (Bryan Greenberg), is kidnapped and ransomed for $2 million. The kidnapper (Sean Hatosy) claims that Eli stole the award-winning idea from his own father, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make him pay. Of course, it’s what happens after the initial kidnapping that really matters, but to say any more would be to spoil the film’s only redeeming quality: the web of twists that begins to unravel around the midway point. Unfortunately, the movie is so damn irritating during the first hour – from the shaky camera movements and blazing fast edits to the Paul Oakenfold techno club soundtrack – that it never has the chance to win back the audience. Miller should stick to more low-key projects like “Bottle Shock,” because his embarrassment of a Guy Ritchie impersonation just isn’t going to cut it.

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