It's been some time since I last saw a movie with creative opening credits. This one is unique, with comic book like panels and graphics, which looks suspiciously like Sin City, capturing different aspects of first responders in a hostage crisis, before dissolving into real life and putting everything into perspective.And we see Bruce Willis with hair! Lots of it! Well, at least for the opening tense and engaging scene. He seems to have monopolized the role of the world weary cop, this time, a renowned hostage crisis negotiator, until the mission goes awry and he literally has blood on his hands.We fast forward to today, and we see the Willis we're all too familiar with - bald, and into a career as a small town police chief. Before you can say "bring on the action!", 3 teenage delinquents hold a man and his 2 children hostage in their swanky ultra modern home.To add to the mix, there's something shady going on behind the man held hostage, and given Willis' reputation as an ex-hotshot negotiator, he's now blackmailed by unidentified masked men holding his own family hostage, who want a DVD from the house with probably important information (don't ask). So Willis has to use his smarts, play both sides, putting his skills into practice and wiggle out of both situations - get the hostages safe, deliver what the masked men wants, and in turn, guarantee safe passage for his own family. Naturally when you play both sides, those on the side of the law always question your motives, as you deviate from the book.What intrigues me is the negotiation process - between Willis and the hostage taking delinquents, and between Willis and the professional masked men - which takes centerstage in any hostage drama. I've been reading up a bit on crisis negotiation, and some aspects of the movie does seem to apply the principles of what I have read, which is cool.It's a thrill from start to end, and this film delivers, with 2 finales tying up the 2 major plots. While at times predictable, the superb delivery by the cast does not bore you, though some might think that having "unidentified" masked men seems a little too convenient, as their motives go unexplained.This is based on a novel, so I might just check out the book. And if Willis' character is called John McClane, this could well be a worthy addition to the Die Hard franchise.
Jeff Talley, who we first meet at a hostage situation in a poor section of L.A., is in charge of negotiating with the man that is holding a woman and a young boy. Talley can't prevent the set of events that happens when the trigger man goes berserk and doesn't want to hear what Talley has to tell him.Fast forward to a year after that incident and we see Talley again. By now he has shaved his hair and beard and by the magic of the movies he is transformed in Bruce Willis, a favorite action hero of many films of this genre. As Talley, he is now working in a small suburban town where soon will be the center of the TV news on all the news channels.Dennis and Kevin, who are brothers, and their friend Mars, like the car that Walter Smith is driving. They follow the car to a remote house that has the looks of a fortress. Walter and his children, the teen ager Jennifer, and the small boy Tommy, are getting ready to order something to eat at home. Little do they know the trio of bandits have decided to invade their home and take the car and whatever they can.When everything goes bad, Jeff Talley, as the chief of police of that locale, comes to the house and realizes what's going on. To make matters worse, Walter Smith is a criminal accountant that is fronting some bad criminals. Smith possesses the key to their ill gotten fortune and in order to ensure he will deliver, the higher ups decide to kidnap Talley's wife and daughter to make him do whatever they dictate in order to assure their money is safe.Back at the house, the trio of young criminals, make the blunder of almost killing Walter Smith, as everything unravels because the situation goes beyond their control. Mars, who is the cruelest one of the three, takes matters into his own to create havoc, but Talley is able to deal with them and his family captors, as we expected him to do.Bruce Willis' role as Talley has been humanized. He is not the hero that shows no feeling in his pursuit of justice. When his family becomes part of the equation, he realizes he is cornered and must act accordingly. Mr. Willis' contribution to the film, although a bit over the top (but then again, it wouldn't be a good action film otherwise), is effective in bringing all the elements together. Ben Foster plays the mercurial Mars, the vilest of the three youths that break into the Smith household. His performance goes from being a cool killer to a desperate man who will do anything to destroy before letting him be taken away.As an action film, and as directed by Florent Siri, "Hostage" is a good entertainment that will not disappoint. The novel by Robert Crais was adapted by Doug Richardson and produces a film that is entertaining and while it doesn't break new ground, it's recommended for fans of this type of movies.
This modern take on the hostage genre is nowhere near as good as THE NEGOTIATOR, but it's still pretty decent, thanks to Bruce Willis being in the title role. Willis ditched his two-dimensional, wise-guy persona a long time ago, and his acting here is excellent; he brings life and manner to the clichéd role of the world-weary cop, and you really feel he has a heart in this film.The plot is well thought out, and there are lots of twists and surprising turns before the end, to keep you entertained. The script is tight and realistic and I loved the film's dark, moody camera-work. The acting is generally sound; the three young criminals are very good indeed, as are the family who are taken hostage.The only place the film really lets you down is the fiery climax, which looks good but seems a bit hollow; I could have done without the cheesy chase scene in the air duct system, which belongs in a horror film, not here. Otherwise, though, HOSTAGE is a good, clean thriller, and dark and gritty enough to be worth a watch.