Grade: B
Year: 2005
Director: Florent Emilio Siri
Writers: Robert Crais and Doug Richardson
Genre: Action/Drama
Rated: R
By Scott (Editor)

Bruce Willis, armed with GLOCK (my personal gun of choice), returns for another fast-paced action thriller out to prove he still has the old John McClain spirit of "Die Hard" in him.

He is Jeff Talley, a renowned Los Angeles hostage negotiator still reeling from his involvement in a failed rescue attempt one year ago, and has since taken a low-profile job as Chief of Police in a small California community.

He soon learns however that even small rural towns come under siege once and awhile and require his negotiating skills to be saved from peril.

The lead-up is not what you'd assume. Three aimless teenagers follow a fancy Escalade back to a secluded mountainside mansion where they plan to take it for a joyride. If only everything happened the way it was supposed to.

The punk teenagers are Dennis and Kevin (Jonathan Tucker and Marshall Allman), two misfits joined by a true menace, Mars (Ben Foster) on their way to the house to find the keys and steal the car.

Armed with weapons they run into Smith (Kevin Pollak), the father of his teenage daughter Jennifer (Michelle Horn) and young son Tommy (Jimmy Bennett). Smith is more than willing to hand them the keys, but by the time the kids can escape a police officer has been dispatched to check out the house.

The situation quickly takes a major turn for the worse.

Talley is re-commissioned as hostage negotiator and must try to resolve the situation and save the lives of those inside. But a twist in events has more riding on the success of this hostage situation than his reputation, and from here two paralleling stories conflict with each other in a unique pattern not usually seen in "The Negotiator" type films.

Prepare for the usual hostage-drama clichés, such as Talley having to battle with a power-hungry FBI agent who's constantly trying to claim jurisdiction, and the ability of one of the hostages inside the house to be able to maintain constant communication with the negotiator.

In this case it's the young boy who nabs his sister's cell phone and is able to crawl throughout the house from inside the ventilation ducts that seem large enough to accommodate a small car. He can see everything that's going on and is able to relay the information back to Talley who desperately needs him to do something to save his own hide.

"Hostage" is currently the most violent film of the year and may hold that title for awhile considering the many images of graphic violence seen throughout the story. No conventional character is safe in this drama, especially the ones you always expect to live; Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci’s camera brings us uncomfortably close to the action. Keep the kids at home.

What makes this film work is the character played by Ben Foster, whose harrowing portrayal of a lost kid who enjoys watching his victims suffer leaves a lasting impression. He is a true villain and doesn't need the clown makeup to emphasis it.

What's most chilling is that no motive is offered to explain why he does what he does; he just happens to one day meet up with two brothers who wanted nothing more than to go for a joyride in an Escalade.

So pathetic these kids are that their actions are plausible and one can see how a stupid plan to steal a car could escalate into a deadly situation. So the third act is a little crazy and may not be possible in the real world, but the buildup is genuine and the uniqueness of the story allows for the spiraling at the end. The message gets across and overall the movie is enjoyable for what it is.

Again I will say that "Hostage" is unusually violent for this type of movie, but I don't agree with some critics who've been unfairly harsh on it, saying it exploits what I won't mention to prevent from spoiling the movie. All I have to say on the matter is that this movie is rated R and you can't assume that anything is safe.

[ Home | About | Movie Reviews | Book Reviews | Search | Contact ]
Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott