A basic abduction package in France will cost you about $1,300. No, not the ransom, but actually getting yourself kidnapped.
If you’re looking for an experience straight out of a Hollywood movie, Eastern France is the place you need to be, where a small company called Ultime Realite provides the unique service. The basic package consists of being seized by strangers, bound, gagged and bundled into a car, and kept in a dark cellar for four hours. Advanced packages include tailor-made services such as boat chases, helicopter escapes, and being kept for longer periods of time.
The idea sounds like something out of the Michael Douglas movie, The Game, where a company provides the services of making you believe that your reputation, finances and safety are at risk, but leaves you with a deep appreciation for life at the end. I suppose you could say Ultime Realite does the same; you are bound to appreciate life more after the experience of being kidnapped. According to the company’s website, “You will go through the real sensations of violence, terror, and fear of a real kidnapping – a psychological shock that you won’t forget in a hurry.” As a customer at Ultime Realite, you can choose exactly the kind of scenario you want, but you will have no idea when or where disaster will strike. The contract states that “we will follow you for a few days. At an opportune moment, in the street or elsewhere, we kidnap you.”
Liam Neeson in Taken
Georges Cexus is the 30-year-old owner of Ultime Realite, and has been running the company for three years now. He gets at least two orders a day – most of his customers are are top-level executives addicted to adrenaline. The experience is viewed as an extreme alternative to other thrilling sports like bungee jumping and skydiving. Georges is careful to maintain the maximum time of incarceration at 11 hours, after which he says that the novelty might wear off. Nobody is ever physically hurt during the kidnappings, he assures. “That’s not part of the plan,” he says. “Together we think about the question of physical and psychological limitations. What I offer is a totally controlled experience that allows you to go further in your personal vision, in your experiences. Anything is possible. I identify what a customer wants and then try to put it into action.” Of course, if the customer feels he/she has reached their endurance threshold at any point, they can end the game by using a previously agreed password. “Let’s say it will really be about bringing to life the client’s worst fear, the thing that’s lurking in the back of his mind and he’s never dared to talk about,” says Georges.
There are other experiences to be had at Ultime Realite as well, apart from being kidnapped. They can choose to lead a manhunt for a fugitive, be tracked by a bounty hunter, attend their own funeral, spend a night in a morgue, or try their hand at shady operations like drug smuggling. The whole package of experiences seems exhilarating; something that normal, everyday people might never get to experience otherwise. But it’s not so great for passersby or witnesses, who have no idea that a fake event is taking place before their eyes. The service isn’t strictly illegal, but a spokesperson for the French police said that the company would have to warn local authorities in case of emergency calls. “With regard to police and penal code, there’s no reason for us to ban this service, as the victim is consenting which means there’s no crime.” But yes, things could get very sticky if someone reports a kidnapping and the police get involved.