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Local film has heart but lacks cutting-edge

Local

Dr Lisa Cooper (Becker), a cardiac surgeon, is haunted by the one life she can’t seem to save – that of her little son Sam.

The boy is in desperate need of a liver transplant, but the two years he has spent on the waiting list for a viable organ is tearing at his mother’s conscience. When a liver does become available, a freak accident robs Sam of his one chance at a healthier life, but all isn’t as it seems.

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Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Natalie Becker
. Pictures Supplied

Meanwhile, an increasingly desperate Dr Cooper decides to venture into murky waters by sourcing an organ illegally at the suggestion of one of her colleagues, Dr Fisher (Kriek).

Morally conflicted, but determined to save her son, Cooper travels to an eerie facility somewhere on the continent and, with her son’s life in the balance, comes to realise that she is merely a pawn in a much bigger game.

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The facility’s head surgeon (played by Deon Lotz) demands that she perform a heart transplant on an American patient and takes her son hostage to ensure her co-operation. Menaced by Fisher, who had been in on the plan all along, Cooper turns to an old medical school friend Dr Chris Moanda (Kae-Kazim), who works as a GP in the impoverished community surrounding the facility.

But just when she thinks she is in the clear, the tables are turned and Cooper is forced into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in an attempt to save Sam.

It’s an engaging story, and a pertinent one too, considering how great the need is in a country where just 2% of the population are organ donors. It’s a statistic one doesn’t really stop to consider until you are in the situation where your life, or that of a loved one, depends on a successful organ transplant. What would you do, if all the options were seemingly exhausted?

For Cooper, the oath she took as a doctor is outweighed by her love for her child. But that desperation makes her an easy mark for those who work in the shadows.

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Despite the set-up however, Bypass doesn’t quite manage to drive home the anxiety and suspense of being trapped on the wrong side of the law, and in a foreign country too. The dialogue is stiff and being holed up in the same facility seems to deprive the actors of the freedom to flesh their characters out. There’s a bit of a backstory for Fisher, who appears to be at odds with being an organ trafficker while his family back home pines for him. But Lotz is reduced to a heavy in scrubs and Becker’s emotional range doesn’t always match up to that of a mother being denied access to her child.

Kae-Kazim, later revealed as the Jekyll and Hyde of the piece, is an unnerving character, largely because he underplays a role which could so easily have been camped up for cheap thrills. He could have done with more screentime. Actually, his character could have done with it’s own film.

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