[Film Review]: Bypass is A Brilliant Local Medical Thriller with Heart

What lengths would you go to, to protect the ones you love?
This is a question poised and then beautifully answered in Bianca Schmitz, Diane Vermooten and Shane Vermooten’s Bypass.

Dr Lisa Cooper (Natalie Becker) one of the country’s top surgeons, is the mother of young Sam (Joel Brown), who is in desperate need of a liver transplant. She encourages him to be brave every day, as they wait for an organ to become available.When someone offers to help Lisa, she reluctantly agrees, not knowing that she might have to trade her expertise as a surgeon for her son’s life.

Cinematic Release Poster

Bypass takes us into the dark underworld of organ trafficking, showing it in all its seedy complexity. Who are the doctors performing these illegal operations? What kind of people are buying these organs? What happens to the people who give up their organs?

For its duration, the film keeps the viewer riveted. The cinematography is breath-taking: each shot is calculated to speak just as clearly as the dialogue does, making the spaces – the hospital, the alleys, the village – stand out, almost as characters in their own right. The accompanying script provides satisfying jaw-dropping twists that the actors execute perfectly.

Natalie Becker delivers an outstanding performance as the mom with a conundrum. With each scene, Lisa’s determination to do what’s best for her son even in the middle of a terrifying situation becomes more and more intense. Watching Lisa think on her feet and figure out how to outsmart the evil doctors is fantastic – the script really shines when it comes to Lisa’s inner world, her motivations and her calculated actions. I found myself thinking “Lisa is one bad-ass mom!” in several of the scenes.

Performances from the small but talented cast hit all the emotional beats of the story really well. Deon Lotz’s patronising German surgeon, Greg Kriek’s well-meaning but desperate and misguided Martin Fischer, and Shoki Mokgapa’s dubious military nurse are great supporting characters that fortify Lisa’s story and make Bypass a true thrill to watch. Watch out for Hakeem Kae-Kazim's stellar turn as Dr Chris Moanda. 

Bypass offers a refreshing take on the scourge of organ trafficking. In showing the different perspectives of the people involved in this world, the film functions as a call to action. The question now becomes: what will you do about the organ donor crisis in South Africa?


This film is a top-notch local production with a larger purpose. Exactly the kind of thing that we need to be seeing more of at our cinemas. 

Bypass opens at selected Ster Kinekor cinemas tomorrow, Friday 12 May. Go out and see it!

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