Monday, September 8, 2014

The Captive Review

The Captive Review
"The Captive" tells the story of the kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl, a kidnapping that puts the father of the girl in a rage and two cops who specialize in kidnapping on the hunt. One of the detectives has a dark past, and the father nearly loses his mind trying to go above the law to find his family. Underneath it all, there is a villain playing an insidious game, manipulating the background of the film and the characters that inhabit this story. The father also ends up being a suspect, as the cops believe he may have had a hand in the kidnapping in some capacity.
Sound familiar yet? Well, that is because director Atom Egoyan has made a Canadian version of "Prisoners," the big, kidnapping movie that came out last Fall. Just replace Hugh Jackman with Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal with Rosario Dawson and delete the Paul Dino character completely and push the main villain to the forefront of the story and that is essentially "The Captive." The rest of the seemingly stellar cast includes Scott Speedman, Kevin Durand, Mireille Enos and Bruce Greenwood. "Prisoners" may have been a brutal film, and nearly impossible to watch at times, but it delivered a worthwhile experience and created an intriguing story that fell into the context of the film. "The Captive" is just as hard to watch as "Prisoners," but for all the wrong reasons.
The first major problem revolves around the style of the film. At first I was somewhat confused by what was going on in "The Captive," which is due to its broken timeframe. Some scenes in the film take place out of chronological order. This timeframe doesn't intrigue the audience, it doesn't add to the context of the movie in any form. It seems all Egoyan wanted to do was throw an easy gimmick into his movie with no weight, no structure, no support to the storytelling. When Christopher Nolan did something similar to this with "Memento," the timeframe fit the movie well, as the movie went backwards, the importance of memory was re-enforced to the audience and we could identify better with "Memento's" hero. With "The Captive," it seems Egoyan knew he had a bad movie on his hands, so he tried horrendously to make it better, failing as a result.
The second major problem is that the film is just plain dead on arrival. "Prisoners" may have taken us down a road we never wanted to go, but it did so in a confident and thrilling manner. There is nothing confident about "The Captive," nor is there anything thrilling about its story. The film's broken timeframe make any surprises Egoyan could have milked out of this completely wasted (Trust me, there are plenty of moments which Egoyan could have altered to make the film at least somewhat surprising.). The film also just features a laundry list of cliches that have worn out their welcome in this genre. Not to mention that absolutely nobody acts anywhere near human nor in character. Cops, bad guys, annoyed parents...none of them act like you would expect them to and everybody acts shockingly oddball decisions that even the freshest of screenwriters wouldn't write into a film. The evil plan of the kidnapper may seem creepy, but it leads to one of the most preposterously anti-climatic endings in a movie I am seen in awhile, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
The actors are working hard to make the movie count, but many of them disappointingly end up short. Rosario Dawson is suppose to be the hard-boiled detective along with Scott Speedman, but Dawson is wasted in the last half hour of the movie, suddenly turning into a damsel-in-distress and Speedman plays the typical "it-was-an-inside-job" cop that usually show up in these films. Kevin Durand plays the main kidnapper in this film and he is written so broadly that he might as well have twirled the mustache he has in every scene. Mireille Enos and Bruce Greenwood are given absolutely nothing to do and both are shockingly wasted in this movie. As for Ryan Reynolds, well some of his big emotional beats hold up and he gives a dedicated, watery-eyed performance. This is the most believable character Reynolds has played in a long time, and its sad how his character suddenly falls flat right at the end. Reynolds last few scenes are some of the most freakishly stupid moments that I feel kind of embarrassed for the screenwriter, so much so that I almost wanted to laugh.
If you have to choose between this and "Prisoners," I'd go with "Prisoners." "Prisoners" is smarter, grittier, and does not slap its audience in the face at nearly every turn. "The Captive" however, is not smart, not gritty and constantly makes fun of its audience and their intelligence. Proceed with caution.

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