Runtime: 80 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2012
Director: Kerry Bellessa
Nate and Sam are two best friends, who decide to make a tape to document their relationship before auditioning for a reality television show. Sam's younger brother mans the camera, sitting in the backseat of their car and rarely speaking. While driving down the road, they see an amber alert flash over the screen on the highway, warning about a potential child abduction. After a few minutes, a car passes by, and they joke about how it almost matches the amber alert. After a few more minutes, they realize that it actually is the same car.
Sam immediately calls the police, giving them the information, and they promise to follow up on her lead. After the police point out that they received hundreds of tips, Sam encourages Nate to keep following the car. Though they make several more calls to the police, it seems clear that they are the only ones who might have a shot at saving a young girl's life.
If you love shouting at the screen, you will enjoy "Amber Alert." There were so many times that we screamed at the television that I began worrying our neighbors might call the police on us. Sam is by far the most annoying character I have come across in recent films, and she is so annoying that my roommate wondered aloud why her best friend hadn't yet killed her.
The writer of the film clearly wanted a character willing to go to extreme lengths, but this one just takes it a bit too far. Not only does Sam force Nate to follow the car into an abandoned area, but when the man steps out and tries to talk to them, she offers to get into his car. While the man pumps gas, she sneaks up behind him and plants a microphone in his car, just so they can keep track of his movements. She even goes into his freaking house, which sets up the ending of the film.
Sam is the type of character who is such a shrew that you won't want her to make it out alive. She starts out as a sweet girl, who understands that Nate likes her as more than a friend, and she turns into this shrieking shrew that nearly ruined the movie for me. I don't care how much I love someone, I wouldn't go through what Nate does in this film. To make things even worse, it's her little brother in the backseat! She is willing to do absolutely anything to save the life of a little girl who she never met, even if it means putting her brother and best friend in danger. Who can root for someone like that?
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy "Amber Alert" because I did. It starts out with a basic premise, which is scary enough on its own. What would you do if you saw an amber alert posted on the highway and discovered the same car driving by you? Would you follow it, or would you just sit back and let someone else deal with it? Most of the film takes place inside the car with each character expressing something different. Nate wants to help, but he only wants to help to a certain point, while Sam is never willing to stop.
The problem is that the film jumps from one plot to another. Our main characters eventually come face-to-face with the possible abductor. He swears that it's his daughter and that he's taking her back to his ex-wife. Nate believes his story, but Sam is so sure that he's lying that she wants to keep following him for hours. Even after they lose him on the road, she makes Nate drive around for at least two hours in the hopes that they might see him again.
The other issue is how the film depicts police officers. While chasing the car, they get pulled over by a police car. The officer hears their story and makes it clear that he never got their report, despite being the only cop in the area. He even makes them leave their car while he calls into the station, leaving the man plenty of time to escape. And don't get me started on the other depictions of police officers either. Sam calls the cops six, seven, eight times, and no one does a damn thing. The last amber alert that we had was solved within two hours because the cops busted their asses. "Amber Alert" wants you to believe that the police are incompetent because it keeps the plot moving forward.
I was really excited to see "Amber Alert." I first heard about it a few months ago and kept waiting for it to come out. Now that I've seen it, I'm still on the fence. Nate is such a warm and likeable character that I hate finding fault with it, but that Sam is such a harpy that her character literally tainted the whole film.