Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker
Director: Florent Siri
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: June 21, 2005
this point on…YOU control what happens to them.”
How ironic that
more than fifteen years after Die Hard
made him an action superstar, Bruce Willis would make a similarly themed action
thriller that’s just as effective. Not only does this mark Willis’ return to
the action genre, but this is one of the most ingenious and well executed films
of its type to come around in some time. Despite its title, this owes more of
its value to the old school action thrillers of the 70s.
The perfection of
the film comes from a neatly textured doubled-layered plot. Following one of the
most visually engaging opening titles I’ve ever witnessed, we are thrown head
first into the mind of its lead character. At the beginning, L.A. hostage
negotiator Jeff Talley (Willis) is hard at work trying to calm down a suspect
who’s holding his wife and son hostage in their home. In spite of Talley’s
best efforts, the incident doesn’t end on a happy note.
As a result of the
tragic event, Talley has relocated to the small community of Ventura a year
later. He is the sheriff of the town, clearly illustrating that he wants to
never obtain the level of responsibility of a hostage negotiator ever again. And
with L.A. drawing too much on his guilt level, residing in a smaller town seems
much fitting. He still has domestic problems to deal with, as the communication
level with his wife (Serena Scott Thomas) and teenage daughter (Rumer Willis,
Bruce’s real life daughter) isn’t as high as it should be.
town, three hoodlums track a family’s ride home. The young hoods, Dennis
(Jonathan Tucker), his brother Kevin (Marshall Allman) and the creepy Mars (Ben
Foster), have the simple plan of jacking the father’s nice ride. They trace
the family to their hillside home, which ranks as one of the most incredible
looking cribs I’ve seen in any single movie. One look at it and you’ll
understand what I mean.
The three quickly
break into the home, escalating into a hostage situation. After the fatal
shooting of a cop sent to inspect a silent alarm, the situation attracts the
attention of the police, with Talley leading the command. As day turns into
night, the situation will turn more deadly for Talley, as there seems to be
something a bigger element at hand concerning an entirely different group of
Just as he turns
matters over to the resident hostage negotiator, a group of masked men corner
Talley in his van. They give him simple orders; retrieve something for them from
within the house that is of importance to them. If he fails, his wife and
daughter, who have already been taken hostage by them, will be killed.
As it turns out,
the father of the family held hostage in the home (Kevin Pollak) is an
accountant who has been unknowingly handling accounts for some unsavory people.
He has encrypted the related files onto a DVD, which is the very item the men
holding Talley’s family want retrieved. Via cell phone, he contacts the
youngest member of the family, Tommy (Jimmy Bennett), and helps him to obtain
the DVD in question. Talley doesn’t like that he’s having to put another
kid’s life in danger to save his family, but he simply asks the boy to help
him, and he does.
The suspense only
intensifies as the movie progresses. As tensions mount between the captors
inside the house, Talley’s own predicament seems uncertain in terms of how it
will turn out. And believe me when I say that the final thirty minutes, complete
with a pulse pounding chase scene in an air duct within the home as it is slowly
burning to the ground, will have you gasping for quick air.
Florent Siri has made a terrific first feature. Siri, as it turns out, comes
from the video game world, as he directed footage for two games of the Tom
Clancy-based series, Splinter Cell. Judging from the magnificent title sequence,
that purely evident. Siri is no doubt a lover of action thrillers of yesteryear,
and his camerawork is nothing short of incredible, as he helps plunge the
viewer, face first, into all of the terror by way of the lens.
For Bruce Willis, Hostage
is yet another career highlight. This has already been quite a year for the
actor. In addition to his powerful turn in Sin
City, Willis has delivered one of the most emotionally powerful performances
of his career. It’s quite a character for any actor to portray, to be already
guilt-stricken by a past incident and having to deal with an entirely new life
or death situation, and Willis pulls it off quite marvelously.
This is one of the
year’s best action thriller offerings, as well as one of the more ingenious
thrillers to come around in quite some time.
absolutely stunning! Director’s Siri stylish vision for this absorbing action
thriller resonates in this superb anamorphic transfer. Image quality is strong
throughout, in clarity and all-around detail. About 90% of the movie takes place
at night, and all of the dark shots appear in the grandest form possible, with
no visible flaws of any sort. Colors are also well handled, particularly in the
color-laden title sequence. Well done across the board!
Hostage carries with it a furious level of sound, and the supplied 5.1 mix
represents the highest quality of execution for a movie of this nature.
Everything gets a top level of performance, from the pulse quickening music
score to the intense bits of action/suspense, to the simplest form of dialogue
delivery. A masterful piece of work.
A good enough level
of extras, as we get a brief but informative featurette titled “Taking Hostage
Behind the Scenes”, deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary, as
well as a full length commentary with director Florent Siri.