Movie Review: 'Viper Club'

John Thomas

She is a loving mother, caring hospital nurse and a victim of significant powers that are way beyond her control – the CIA, US State Department and ISIS. Working in a hospital emergency room in a New York City suburb, the life of Helen (Susan Sarandon) is turbulent. The singular highlight of her existence is her adult son who is a free-lance war correspondent, reporting from troubled parts of the world. Currently he is assigned to the Middle East.

While covering a story of child victims in these areas of intense conflict, a bomb goes off sending him, the children and adults fleeing for safety in all directions. Helen’s son flees into the arms of the enemy who capture him with the hope of obtaining ransom money for his release. The email Helen receives from ISIS demands $20 million. Of course she does not have that kind of money so she contacts the US government agencies for help.

They are aware of the situation and are “working on it.” In the meantime, she is told not to reveal the email or another ransom correspondence with anyone – she must keep it all to herself, for the time being at least. Meanwhile at work she is experiencing double shifts, hospital audits, work downsizing and – Christmas is just around the corner.

Out of fear, frustration and fatigue she finally reaches out to a clandestine organization she has been told may be able to offer her some assistance – one that is out of governmental reach.

Sam (Matt Bomer), part of the Viper Club, has been assigned to help her. He himself knows the drill, having been a captive, collector and distributor of ransom money; he is well versed in government guidelines and how to circumvent them. Once collected, he arranges the transfer of these huge amounts of money from one bank to another, one shell company to another and finally one country to another.

Helen is heartened by the amount of money donated to her cause and the speed with which the rescue process is moving toward her son’s possible release.

There is one caveat however, and that is for her to prepare a video directed to ISIS that requests the release of her son, or at least to see he is cared for until his release. This is very much against the U.S. policy because once made, the video is televised world-wide. Now things really start getting dicey.

Her colleagues and friends who had no idea of her situation are very sympathetic and supportive – the government is not at all pleased. Christmas passes, the New Year is coming with it bright hopes for the future. At the hospital staff New Year’s party the TV is on to show the countdown toward midnight – the countdown is interrupted.


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