2005 - R - 113 Mins.
|Director: Florent Sir
|Producer: Mark Gordon, Arnold Rifkin, Bruce Willis and Bob Yari
|Written By: Doug Richardson
|Starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Jimmy Bennett, Michelle Horn and Ben Foster
|Review by: Bill King
|Official Site: www.miramax.com/hostage/
Arriving with little fanfare, probably because of Bruce Willis’ other early ’05 movie "Sin City," "Hostage" begins like any other movie about a reserved cop; he experiences a disaster in the opening scenes before moving off to less-demanding job elsewhere in order to forget his troubles. It happened to Jean-Claude Van Damme in "Sudden Death," and more recently to Ethan Hawke in "Assault on Precinct 13," leading me to wonder whether all these screenwriters belong to the same country club or not.
Will act for food
The uneventful new position for the traumatized cop always turns hectic, usually a few months to a year after leaving his previous post. Jeff Talley (Willis) loses his nerve after his negotiation with a gunman fails, resulting in the deaths of his hostages. In an effort to put all that behind him, Talley becomes the police chief in a small California town, the kind of place where nothing happens. Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) is a wealthy resident with a home high in the hills, complete with an elaborate security system. When three thugs break in and hold him and his two children hostage, Jeff Talley has to dust off his skills and go to work once again.
The twist this time is a third party that wants information hidden in Walter Smith’s home. He was involved in criminal activity, and he has evidence that would put away his accomplices. In order to get that information, Smith’s cohorts kidnap Talley’s family and hold *them* hostage, so that now we have an interesting scenario. Talley needs to free hostages while simultaneously working behind the scenes to save his own family. This gives the movie’s title an interesting double meaning.
The script gives the three teenagers conflicting attitudes about the break-in. Mars Krupcheck (Ben Foster) is a sadistic fiend who revels in torture; during the final scenes, the extent of his personality goes overboard when he realizes that he is defeated. His buddies are Dennis (Jonathan Tucker) and Kevin Kelly (Marshall Allman). Kevin never really wanted to go along, so his involvement is a nuisance rather than an advantage.
Outside the house, Talley has to play all three sides of the equation. The county sheriff’s department takes charge of the scene due to Talley’s force being ill-equipped to handle a hostage crisis, but Talley returns to the case once his family is put in jeopardy. Then he has to give into his family’s captor’s demands by obtaining a DVD with incriminating evidence stored on it, and even then he still needs to negotiate with Mars and Dennis to free the Smith children.
"Hostage" features good acting, a script filled with unexpected turns and top-notch directing from an unknown director named Florent Emilio Siri. However, for all the movie’s desire to differentiate itself from others of its type, it lacks just enough originality or imagination to carry itself successfully over all the other big-budgeted action flicks. With every unforeseeable element in the film, there’s another throwback to standard action movie fare (people crawling around in ventilation shafts, the hero’s defiant daughter, suave villains, etc.) that prevents the story from completely breaking free of its long-established roots.