Held Hostage by a Gratuitous Script
Release Date: March 11, 2005
Starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak,
Jonathan Tucker, and Ben
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 113 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/BV
Director: Florent Emilio Siri
Executive Producer: Hawk Koch, Josef
Thiesmeyer, and David J. Wally
Producer: Arnold Rifkin, Mark Gordon and
Writer: Robert Crais and Doug
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 and (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
In HOSTAGE, Bruce Willis stars as Jeff Talley, a former SWAT member and LAPD hostage negotiator. Talley has moved his divided family into a small community with even smaller crime statistics. He is trying to find healing in this quiet community after, just a year earlier, an unsuccessful negotiation in Los Angeles left an entire family dead.
As the senior police officer of Bristo Camino, Talley responds to a developing hostage situation involving some wayward teenagers, a cold-blooded killer and a wealthy family living in a witness protection program, as well as other ruthless and unsavory characters. Unknown to Talley, the father of the family being held hostage is some sort of accountant for an illicit and illegal organization. By all appearances, Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) is a loving father with many dark secrets. His mansion (which redefines the phrase “strong fortress”) contains state-of-the-art security technology, a safe loaded with millions in cash and encryption equipment. The secret organization he works for will go to any length to recover an encrypted DVD in the midst of this hostage situation.
Smith’s children, a rebellious teenager named Jennifer and a young and resourceful son named Tommy, do their best to cope with the frightening drama unfolding before them. Tommy cleverly uses his decorated “clubhouse” crawl-spaces to elude the bad guys while contacting Talley on Jennifer’s cell phone. The hostage-takers are an erratic, dangerous and divided group made up of arguing brothers and a cold-hearted young man obsessed with Jennifer.
Meanwhile, away from the Smith residence, masked gunmen briefly abduct Talley and reveal that they have taken his own family hostage. Unless he recovers the DVD for the secret organization, his family will be ruthlessly killed. Talley is faced with trying to resolve the HOSTAGE situation in the Smith mansion while taking steps to protect his own abducted family.
HOSTAGE emulates the thrills and drama of PANIC ROOM, UNBREAKABLE, DIE HARD, and many other more effective movies. The story is intriguing enough to entice the viewers, but holding them there requires more heart and greater credibility than this movie provides. There is no doubt that Willis is an international star, but lacking a strong supporting cast leaves him floundering and posturing in disappointing scenes. His real-life daughter, Rumer, plays Talley’s rebellious daughter, Amanda. She and the actress playing Talley’s wife are so wooden in their roles, they practically stop the building drama. Another problem is the music. Alexandre Desplat has composed beautiful original music for HOSTAGE, but Director Florent Siri relies too heavily on that music and a silly script to carry tender scenes between Talley and the abducted children. The result is awkward and sometimes laughably bad.
Oddly enough, HOSTAGE’s press and marketing presents a better story than the one the movie offers. The promotional tagline reads: “Would you sacrifice another family to save your own?” This is a great idea for a plot device, but it fails to surface in HOSTAGE. Further, the twists and turns of this lumbering story offer tantalizing hints of a better movie, but even they fail to go anywhere. Perhaps Director Siri will next time use his marketing department to develop scripts and storylines instead of his screenwriters.
Most offensive of all is the fact that HOSTAGE revels in its gratuitousness. The language and violence are excessive and unnecessary. Viewers are deluged with an obscenity-laden script which produces profanities, blasphemies and strong cursing occurring an average of once per minute. Add to that the sexual references, rebellious attitudes, drug use, and violence, and viewers are left with a mind-numbing experience. HOSTAGE may have a few moral messages and themes sprinkled throughout, but they pay lip service to an overall unwholesome project.
Do yourself a big favor: skip HOSTAGE or you may find your heart held captive by spiritual darkness for its 113 minutes.
HOSTAGE emulates the thrills of many other, more effective movies. The story is intriguing enough to draw in viewers, but holding them requires more heart and greater credibility than this movie provides. Most offensive is the fact that HOSTAGE revels in its gratuitousness. The foul language and violence are excessive and unnecessary. HOSTAGE may have a few moral messages and redemptive themes sprinkled throughout, but they pay lip service to an overall unwholesome project.