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'Reclaim' tosses away all credibility

'Reclaim' tosses away all credibility
Ryan Phillippe as Steven in the movie "Reclaim." (Lionsgate)

The horror of child trafficking has been explored in numerous fiction and documentary films. So too has overseas adoption, in all its emotional and political complexity. Both topics figure nominally in "Reclaim," which takes a different tack: It uses them as action-thriller fodder.

The scam against adoptive parents and orphans that it depicts may be based on true crimes, but director Alan White's ludicrously escalating showdown between goodies and baddies is too far-fetched to sound a credible note of protest.

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Incongruously, the drama features accomplished actors, travelogue scenery and a surfeit of guns, cash and murderously speeding cars. It starts off gently enough, with the arrival in Puerto Rico of an apparently wealthy Chicago couple (Ryan Phillippe and Rachelle Lefevre), dewy-eyed and nervous over the prospect of meeting their new daughter. At the instruction of the orphanage's preternaturally chirpy director (Jacki Weaver), they settle in at a beach resort with the girl (Briana Roy), an exceptionally well-adjusted 7-year-old who lost her family in the Haiti earthquake, and wait for her passport to be processed.

Then John Cusack, in full-tilt sleazoid mode, appears on the white-sand horizon, and the delighted parents have to fend off his menacing friendliness. Double crosses, kidnapping, extortion and heroics ensue, with Luis Guzman as the cop who doubts the couple's story, until he doesn't. Carmine Gaeta and Luke Davies' screenplay is constructed from plot mechanics, and the emotional stakes grow less convincing with every twist of the screw.

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"Reclaim."

MPAA rating: R for language, violence.

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Playing: At AMC Burbank 16. Also on VOD.

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