R (disturbing content, sexual references); 80 min.
You've spied the electronic billboard message on the interstate and maybe felt a chill as you did -- "Amber Alert," then a car description, a license number. Who among us hasn't at least taken a glance to the left and right to make sure we weren't passing the suspect vehicle at that very moment?
But who among us would dare to follow such a car if we saw it? Yeah, we'd phone 911. But chase the vehicle, at a safe distance, to a service station? Try to peek in the tinted windows?
That's the killer premise of Amber Alert, an often effective, occasionally illogical thriller built on "found footage" of such a pursuit.
Sam (Summer Bellessa) and Nate (Chris Hill) are BFFs, Arizona 20-somethings who get Sam's younger brother to videotape their audition tape for a reality TV show.
As this lean little thriller drives along, tensions rise and tempers flare in the pursuit car. "Not get involved" Nate is willing to believe the best, that the driver (Jasen Wade) looks like "a regular dude." "Reckless" Sam is hung up on the worst.
For viewers, Alert is a real shout-at-the-screen picture. Where are the elusive cops? Why aren't Sam and Nate calling and updating those cops with every turn the gray Accord makes? Why haven't those cops tracked the license plate of the abductor, since that's on their own Amber Alert notice board, and thus gotten to his house already?
In a thriller that's as quick and short as Amber Alert, some of those quibbles occur to you as you watch it. But if you're sucked into it, the worst of them won't sink in until the closing credits roll.
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-- Roger Moore,
McClatchy-Tribune News Service