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Review: Rich kids fight back in shaky thriller ‘Billionaire Ransom’

Phoebe Tonkin and Jeremy Sumpter in the movie "Billionaire Ransom."
(Aimee Spinks / Gravitas Ventures)

Excellent production values and a decent premise help hold together “Billionaire Ransom,” an otherwise rickety thriller constructed from used parts. Part “Die Hard” and part “The Breakfast Club” — no, seriously — this hybrid of survivalist action and young-adult drama remains watchable from start to finish, even if it never becomes essential.

Jeremy Sumpter stars as Kyle, a spoiled rich kid who gets sent to a boot-camp-style boarding school on a remote Scottish isle after a drunk-driving incident nearly kills a girl named Amy (Phoebe Tonkin). There, he bonds with other ne’er-do-wells — including Amy — in extreme camping exercises.

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The training comes in handy when the school gets invaded by a paramilitary group that holds the kids hostage, demanding a big payday from their wealthy parents. They fail to catch Kyle, though, leaving him free to sabotage their operation, guerrilla-style.

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Alexander Ignon’s script mostly strings together genre clichés and clunky dialogue. Although the story takes too long to get cranked up, once it does it’s full of lively action and twists, staged well by veteran B-movie director Jim Gillespie (“Joyride,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”).

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And even at its stiffest, “Billionaire Ransom” has some lovely wilderness footage, filled with nice-looking, multi-ethnic young people. Sure, they’re all brandishing guns and crossbows and fighting to stay alive. But apart from that, they appear to be having a wonderful time.

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‘Billionaire Ransom’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

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