Action superstar Bruce Willis (SIN CITY, DIE HARD, UNBREAKABLE, THE SIXTH SENSE, ARMAGEDDON, PULP FICTION) powers a nail-biting thriller that crackles with action and suspense! When Jeff Talley (Willis) became chief of pol... more »ice in a sleepy town, he thought he'd left behind the traumas of his career as a big city hostage negotiator. But when a random crime escalates into a deadly standoff, Talley finds himself thrust into a situation far more volatile and terrifying than anything he could ever imagine! Also starring Kevin Pollak (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS), Jonathan Tucker (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), and Ben Foster (SIX FEET UNDER, THE PUNISHER), this acclaimed hit is based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crais.« less
Bruce Willis is overly motivated to save these hostages
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Going into this film you should know that "Hostage" is an over the top sort of film. Based on the novel of the same name by Robert Crais, this 2005 release finds that one hostage drama is not enough, there needs to be two hostage dramas going on at the same time just to make things even more complicated. Then it decides that the hero should be burdened with guilt over a previous hostage situation that goes wrong. On the one hand this makes the scenario pretty unbelievable, but on the other hand you get to the point where you are wondering how they are going to get to the requisite happy ending so you will be hard pressed to call "Hostage" predictable. That being the greatest Hollywood sin, I am willing to forgive this film its faults.
The prologue finds Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis), with long hair and a long beard, dealing with a hostage situation in L.A. His goal is to make sure that nobody dies that die, but that does not happen. A year later Talley is the chief of police in Bristo Camino in Ventura County. His wife (Serena Scott Thomas) and daughter (Rumer Willis) are still living in the city and come out to visit on weekends. The daughter is not speaking to her father, apparently worried her parents are going to get divorced and unable to understand why daddy wants the relative peace and quiet of the sticks. But like Willis' most famous screen incarnation, John McClane of the "Die Hard" flicks, the rule of irony applies and his biggest nightmare shows up in town.
Three young punks are sitting in a stolen pick-up truck ogling a young girl who flips them off before getting back into her daddy's SUV. They decide to follow the family home and when they discover a beautiful home nestled in the hills outside of town they decide to break in and push the family around. The thing we know somebody is dead and Talley arrives on the scene to be greeted by a hail of bullets. The Smith family ends up being held hostage by these three punks and when the County Sheriff shows up Talley is perfectly happy to turn over command and walk away. However, there is an interested third party to the hostage situation who insists that Talley resume command and do everything in his power, not to make sure that everybody gets out alive, but that a certain computer disc is retrieved.
Again, this is a totally unbelievable situation, but it is not boring. You either buy into the scenario and go along for the ride or you do not. My only question is whether the red herring I picked up on to no good end whatsoever was intentional or an uncorrupted mistook. That and why the title credits look like a dry run for "Sin City" and also have no discernable payoff in the film. The most interesting character in the film ends up being Mars (Ben Foster), the trigger happy one of the punks who had be scared because I kept thinking at some point he would realize that the young girl he was holding hostage (Michelle Horn) was going to be the last female he was going to be near for the rest of his life. Earlier in the film her father (Kevin Pollak) tried to dissuade her from dressing like a tramp. Being eyeballed by punks with guns certainly seems to suggest that she might reconsider her clothing choices in the future (especially in terms of any words that might appear on her shirts).
Director Florent Siri comes up with some interesting camera shots and even managed to impress me with a slow motion shot (I have been wincing at those pretty much since I saw the end of "Rocky II"). If anything, Siri is fascinating by the cinematic style of violence he can depict and if you are looking for an action film with flair this might fit the bill. The only one liner Willis' character has in the film is an echo of something just said by one of the bad guys and most of the key moments for his character are inarticulate looks of fear, rage, and despair. That is why I thought the two hostage situations were motivation enough without needing to resort to the one that went wrong. The end game of "Hostage" requires a couple of reverses to help things along, but I actually found it quite interesting to suddenly be rooting for a character that I was hoping to see dead and although I did figure out the finale surprise twist it was not telegraphed that far in advance, so I was more pleased with myself than disappointed in the film."
Thrilling Action with Quick Changes of Direction & Clever Si
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To be a hostage induces an dreadful experience to those under circumstances where the choice of options have ceased to exist. The only choice is to live under the constant observation of another party who controls everything within the area in which they confine the hostage. In order to prevent a deadly outcome in a stand-off with law enforcement the police have negotiators that communicate, usually over the phone, directly with the person in charge. The negotiator communicates with the hostage taker in order to gain ground and information in regards to the situation while trying to solve the issue in a peaceful manner. Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) is negotiator who desires nothing else than to solve hostage situations peacefully, but it has taken it's toll on his life including his relationship with his wife and daughter. Consequently, Jeff has taken the job as a small town sheriff where he enjoys counting the peaceful days in contrasts to the violence of Los Angeles.
Hostage, directed by Florent Emilio Siri, has an interesting display of the opening credits through a vignette portraying the city of Los Angeles in black and gray while the sky is crimson red. This suggestively induces a notion of darkness and despair that suddenly cuts into a hostage situation where an extremely disturbed man has taken a woman and her son hostage who is also screaming out his demands over a phone. On the other side of the line rests Jeff on his back under the scorching L.A. sun located on top of a parking garage talking to the hostage taker with the cool calmness of a kindergarten teacher. During his conversation with the hostage taker the S.W.A.T. team informs him that they are ready to strike, but he holds them back. However, the situation begins to slip Jeff's grip and it is the violence of these working conditions that makes Jeff seek relocation in a more serene community.
The relocation takes its toll on his family. His daughter thinks they are getting a divorce while she feels the tension between her mom and dad. Jeff's wife even complains that she does not know what is going on, as Jeff keeps everything bottled up inside and does not share his thoughts or feelings. Yet, the job has its benefits compared to his previous job. It is a safer and more peaceful job for Jeff, as his biggest problem is speeding and maintaining the dress code among the police officers. However, somewhere in this low-crime background a dark and more sinister situation is about to boil into a deadly stand-off with the local police force. Three teenagers decide on trying to steal a luxury SUV from a richer family, but something goes wrong and the three adolescents become hostage takers.
Initially, it all seems like an ordinary break-in that went wrong and led the hostage situation to Jeff, but when some other factors come into play he finds himself being a hostage. His position turns into a race against time and the other police officers in charge at the lavish mountain top home where the hostages reside. It is crucial that Jeff remain cool and collected while trying to find an answer to his tough situation which calls for extreme measures. However, he cannot plan for the unexpected elements that might occur in a highly stressful circumstance and how it might affect others in this situation.
From the opening credits until the end of the film viewers will most likely sit glued to the edge of their seat. The story is highly engaging and it throws several different ideas at the audience to make the situation captivating, and it does so with much success. There are however, some elements in the story that feel awkward and far-fetched, yet somehow Florent Emilio Siri keeps the audience's attention until the very end. The cinematography touches on the borders of psychosis when it extravagantly spreads its black and crimson shades across the screen, which artistically elevate the level of suspense. Bruce Willis's performance balances well with Ben Foster's dark persona that brings another intriguing element to the story. All of the different aspects of the story prepare the audience for a thrilling journey that quickly changes direction with clever side plots and moments of surprise."
Double your hostage, double your action
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 10/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another dark drama that makes no pretense Of having a plotline that makes any sense With two hostage stories, it's double the action Depending on violence to get your reaction
Bruce Willis does "anguish", the thing he does best But the acting shouts "B" for most of the rest He once lost a hostage and retired from the fray Preferring to sit at his desk every day
But as fate would have it, some punks cross his path And it blows up real quick when a cop feels their wrath They hold the Smiths hostage, the alarm system sucks The stakes get much higher when they find some big bucks
And wouldn't you know it, the Dad is a crook By creative accounting, not quite by the book He's hidden some files under "Heaven Can Wait" And organized crime is now storming the gate
The punks are in shambles, they're out of their league They're making mistakes out of greed and fatigue But Bruce has no choice, he can't put it aside His wife and his daughter are kidnapped and tied
The ending's predictable, violent and gory A typical, everyday action-man story With fiery effects and slow motion also As a rental, this movie is packaged to go.
(Rated 3.5 stars)
Amanda Richards, October 10, 2005 "
Isaac | Raleigh, NC | 01/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Hostage" is a well-written, well-acted, and well-made thriller that hosts the return of Bruce Willis to his true action-thriller roots. It is also a warm-up exercise for the veteran, who announced a week before the film's theatrical release that he has every intention of returning for a fourth "Die Hard" installment. Whether or not he will follow through on this, he reminds us in this movie that he is still at the top of his game. And when, may I ask, will the bad guys learn that you just don't mess around with Bruce Willis?
One year after negotiating a hostage situation that ended in tragedy, Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) is the chief of police in Ventura County, California. His marriage with Jane (Serena Scott Thomas) is on the rocks, he is at odds with his daughter Amanda (Willis` real-life daughter, Rumer Willis), and, as would be expected, the past is haunting him mercilessly. Talley is having trouble coping with not being able to save a little boy's life, which is why he retired from being a negotiator and took a less stressful job.
What begins as a "low crime Monday" in Talley's quiet town turns into a nightmare when a trio of troublesome teenagers--comprised of brothers Dennis and Kevin (Jonathan Tucker and Marshall Allman) and their buddy Mars (Ben Foster)--invade the highly secured mountaintop mansion of wealthy accountant Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak). The punks have the simple intention of stealing Walter's Escalade, but when a silent alarm is tripped and an investigating police officer is shot, they take Walter, his teenage daughter Jennifer (Michelle Horn), and his young son Tommy (Jimmy Bennett) hostage.
Talley arrives on the scene with backup and finds himself talking to Dennis, but having lost one officer already motivates him to turn authority over to the county police. However, Talley is stopped by a second group of villains--unaffiliated with Dennis, Kevin, and Mars--who have taken his wife and daughter hostage. He is instructed by their masked leader to return to the house and retrieve a cryptic DVD or his family will die. This plot device is completely brilliant. It takes "Hostage" out of the usual atmosphere of its genre, giving it a grand and gallant complexity that saves it from being typical.
Its a bizarre coincidence that three teenage punks unwittingly interfere with the plans of professional criminals. Bizarre, too, is the film's suggestion that Tommy can break his sister's glass bong, slice his hand, cut through tape that is binding his wrists, and squirm his way through the roomy crawl space of the house. The film also expects us to believe that air ducts are spacious enough to crawl through, but without this, a key chase scene would not be possible.
When the three teenagers are inside and figure out how to activate the mansion's safeguards, it seems nearly impossible for Talley to penetrate the house and retrieve the DVD. Dennis is the voice of the group and, assumingly, the man in charge, while his kid brother Kevin is more passive and conscientious. Mars (a brilliant performance by Ben Foster) is a shadowy customer, who lingers among Dennis and Kevin with sinister instinct and develops a lustful obsession with Jennifer.
As the second hour of the film unfolds, we begin to study the changing persona of Talley. What really motivates him? Viewers will be debating this with their friends on the ride home from the theater. Is he trying to save the Smith family or his own? Upon escaping, little Tommy manages to contact Talley, and Talley is willing to put Tommy in jeopardy so that he can retrieve what the masked men want. On this side of the argument, the Smiths are disposable. But later, during one of the film's many thrilling instances, Talley is suddenly obliged to save the Smiths, determined not to relive the crisis that he experienced one year ago. Through this and many other moments, including a touching scene where Talley gives a video game analogy of the situation to Tommy, Bruce Willis proves that he is still a strong actor who doesn't settle for giving one hundred percent.
What drives "Hostage'' is a screenplay populated with emotion and moments of overwhelming intensity. It also initiates moments of abrupt graphic violence and unexpected deaths, in which we come to realize that the situation is more serious and brutal than it appears to be. The screenplay is driven by characters who are portrayed with skill. The beautiful and talented Michelle Horn succeeds with Jennifer; the cute and lovable Jimmy Bennett is already a pro; Jonathan Tucker and Marshall Allman mix guilt and innocence with their respective characters. But it is Ben Foster who steals the show as Mars, who, along with Kiefer Sutherland`s caller in "Phone Booth," is one of the best movie villains in recent years. The cold-heartedness and psychosis that Foster brings to his character is likely to have him typecast for the majority of his career.
However routine and cliched the film may be, director Florent Siri ensures that everything be spellbinding, and what results is an exciting, suspenseful thriller. The house that a majority of the film takes place in exists as a remarkable set piece and, much like the panic room from David Koepp's 2002 film, is a character in the film in a lot of ways. You even start to wonder if the house has a mind of its own, because after the thirty minute mark, you can tell that the film does.
Rated R; 113 minutes; Directed by Florent Emilio Siri"
As good as this type of film gets
M. A Spitzer | Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When compared to the majority of films being released these days, HOSTAGE is about as good as it gets making this type of film... Classic good honest cop thrown into a tough situation while trying to escape the burnout of a prior life is faced with some of society's worst criminals and human scum ! Bruce Willis does some of his best dramatic emotional acting in this tense hostage thriller. Soundtrack helps build the moods and tensions. This is not the mindless "cotton candy" formula fluff liberal Hollywood tends to toss out these days.. this is a real story with real world grit. Sure there are some minor elements I may not have been 100% thrilled with regarding the kid's pat of the storyline, but no film can be 100% perfect in every regard for every viewer. Like I said, this is about as good as it gets when making this type of film. It's a shame it got such little attention when other lesser films are better known."