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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Captive

March 2nd, 2015

The Captive - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The Captive was co-written and directed by Atom Egoyan, who has made some amazing films over the years. It stars Ryan Reynolds, who showed he can really act with his performance in Buried. However, the film struggled in its opening weekend and failed to find an audience in theaters. Is it a worthy addition to the two men's filmography? Or is there a good reason audience stayed away?

The Movie

The Captive starts with a spoiler. Less than 20 minutes into the movie, there are no less than three timelines we are dealing with, probably four, possibly more, and none of which are clearly differentiated. This has two main effects. Firstly, it makes it really hard to get into any details in the plot summary, because if I say what happens in the order it is shown in the film, it would be too disjointed; there would be no flow. Of course, this is actually true of the movie, so at least it would be accurate. On the other hand, if I explained what happened chronologically, I would run into spoilers. I guess I could simply introduce the characters and the setup.

The earliest timeline is when Cass was nine-years old. We see her practicing her ice skating while her parents, Matthew and Tina are watching. Afterward, Tina has to go to work, so Matthew drives home with Cass. The pair stop by a pie shop to get dessert for that night. Matthew goes into the store for only a couple of minutes leaving Cass in the back of his truck, but when he gets back, she's gone.

Matthew goes to the cops, where he is interrogated by Nicole and Jeffery, who disbelieve his story and latch onto him as the main suspect in Cass's disappearance. He gets understandably angry that the cops are not trying to find the real kidnappers. This might have been a really tense part of the story, except...

I mentioned the movie starts with a spoiler. At the beginning of the movie, we see Cass at age seventeen, still being held captive by her kidnapper, Mika. The details of the crime are way too far into spoiler territory. However, just knowing that the crime isn't solved for years makes the police procedural elements of the movie far less tense than they needed to be. Additionally, the police procedural elements are just not well done. Too often the cops did things that were just plain dumb. Suspension of disbelief is something usually brought up with fantastic elements of stories. However, it is just as important when it comes to characters' actions. If the characters don't act like actual people, but instead act like the creations of screenwriters, it is impossible to get invested in the story. You know the story will end not how it should have organically ended, but how the screenwriters want it to end.

Also, the non-chronological nature of the storytelling was more of a hindrance than an asset to the film. We see Cass and Matthew talk about her skating before they get to the pie shop. Matthew comments on her choice of skates, one white and one black, as a trick and Cass points out the correct word is gimmick. He then calls it a gimmick she doesn't need. The conversation is referenced later in the movie. Both times I thought perhaps Atom Egoyan was punking us, for lack of a better term. I thought perhaps he was admitting that the film's tendency to jump around in time was a gimmick, one that wasn't needed, but he was using it anyway. Or maybe I'm reading too much into those scenes.

Regardless, the basic setup had enough to carry the film and the acting was very strong. However, the execution was weak enough that I can't recommend the film.

The Extras

Extras include an audio commentary tack with the director, Atom Egoyan. There is also a nine-minute making of featurette and an alternate ending, as well as 14 minutes of deleted scenes.

The technical presentation is good, but not great. The film was shot digitally, but a lot of the movie takes place during snowy winter days, which isn't the best environment to show off either clarity or colors. Additionally, the audio is clear, but uncomplicated. This is a dialogue-driven film without much need for dynamic audio effects, for instance.

The Blu-ray costs $18, which is $4 or 28% more than the DVD.

The Verdict

The Captive has some good components, but the execution is flawed enough that it is frustrating to watch. There are better extras than expected on the DVD or Blu-ray, especially given its box office troubles, but that's not enough to be worth a purchase. I don't think it is worth a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Captive, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Durand, Atom Egoyan, Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Mireille Enos, Alexia Fast, Peyton Kennedy