Hostage (2005)

Genre(s): Drama / Thriller
Miramax || R - 103 minutes - $19.99 || June 21, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-06-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Florent Siri
Writer(s): Robert Crais (novel), Doug Richardson (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker, Jimmy Bennett, Michelle Horn, Marshall Allman


Theatrical Release Date: March 11, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director Commentary
  • Taking Hostage Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I>Hostage is one of these films that are better for the small screen than in theaters as after watching it at home, I tended to enjoy it a little more this time around. I did predict this in my initial review, I laid out 4 levels of movie entertainment, with this one being a "2", good only for TV. While I did enjoy the film more, I don't think it's worth the cost of a rental, but instead wait for it on television or the $1.99 shelves at your local video rental store.

Now, why I did like it more this time rather than a few months ago was because it held my attention long enough and I didn't feel gipped for paying the high cost in tickets... For the most part, the cast is good enough including Willis who, although not in his Die Hard form, does a fine job.

Original Review:
There are four levels I place a movie on: level 4 - See it in theaters; level 3 - See it at the $1 theater; level 2 - Worthwhile to view on television; level 1 - Don't even bother. FOr me, Hostage squarely at level two. This is the kind of film that on the surface isn't too bad. As a thriller, it works fairly well and as a Bruce Willis movie, it works a hell lot better than his recent works (Bandits, The Whole Ten Yards, etc).

Hostage begins with the typical tragic backstory as hostage negotiator Jeff Talley decisions takes a toll on him (this, of course, comes into play later on). A year later, we find him outside of Los Angeles (where this incident takes place) and now the chief of police of a small town. What starts out as a "low crime Monday" turns into a nightmare when three young punks decide to steal rich guy Walter Smith's (Pollak) car after an encounter earlier that day with his lovely daughter Jennifer (Horn). What goes from stealing cars turns into a hostage situation after the third of the pack opens fire on a police officer investigating a triggered silent alarm.

Futher complicating the situation is Mr. Smith is an accountant working for shady businessmen and is in the possession of an item these bad guys desperately need and who are also concerned with the current situation they're watching on the news. So, they enlist the help of Talley (by kidnapping his family) to get the item or else. Meanwhile, inside the house the three punks are in over their heads as the complex is surrounded by SWAT and the like and there's seemingly no way to escape. They want out, Talley wants in. The thrill builds, right?

Hostage was a decent film. It's a movie to watch on a slow summer day where it's too hot to do anything except sit on your butt. However, this isn't a hot summer day (where I am, anyways) and this isn't a film that I felt was worth the cost of admission. Yes, I think Bruce Willis did a good job with a character that's only skin deep most of the time; and the thing of it is, normally that would be fine for an actor like Willis who didn't have much character depth in the Die Hard movies. The difference is, those action films were just that, fluffy action sequences with a semi-taut storyline. Here, though, the tension never really sustained itself until the end. This is a movie with moments of both greatness and of mediocrity, with the latter wiping out some great parts.

The supporting actors I think come out like Willis. Kevin Pollak spends a vast majority of the film clunked out; our three punks (Foster, Tucker and Allman) are your typical thugs who are over their heads (reminded me a bit like the thieves in Panic Room); and Bennett and Horn are also decent as the Smith's kids. Although these actors more fill a role, they do provide some drama and tension for a plot in need of it.

Making his American cinema debut, Florent Siri had previously made a couple of foreign films as well as a couple "Splinter Cell" games, which explains the opening title sequence done in CGI and which purpose I still can't figure out. For what its worth, Siri (like Willis) brings the story along at a nice pace and kept my attention span long enough to get me to the end.

Unfortunately, I think the biggest problem with Hostage was actually with the story itself. Based on the novel by Robert Crais, this adaptation by Die Hard 2 scribe Doug Richardson doesn't quite keep the thrilling aspects of the story going. I personally haven't read the novel (to be honest, I never even heard of it) but this is a problem many book-to-screen adaptations encounter. A book has enough time to flesh out the characters where a movie does not.

For what's there, Hostage does an OK job though I think it's only worthy of the dollar theater. Bruce Willis does good for a thin role and actually makes strides to get people to forget about The Whole Ten Yards (though I don't think many people saw it in the first place). As far as Willis' career goes, he's on the same kind of path as John Travolta, meaning he's on the decline; I think the days of his $75m+ box office take are gone.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Right to the point, this is your typical disc that is released for a movie that went in and out of the theater quickly.

The director's commentary is the standard kind as director Siri goes through the nueances of the filming process and how he wanted to direct Hostage (which he's a fan of film noir of the 40s and thrillers of the 70s), neither of which I really took from the movie... Not really a bad commentary, but I have to admit I had some problem understanding him through his accent.

There are 6 deleted scenes ranging from a scene between the brothers discussing jacking cars to "Mars Takes Out FBI Team #1". Usually scenes in these kind of films, but I have to say it was interesting to watch. One scene of interest (one that was taken out because it was known via dialogue) where one of the cops goes to check out the silent alarm. The scene itself was unnecessary and takes the runtime below two hours, so I have no quams with it being gone, but it was interesting to watch. Also of note, one deleted scene hints at Jeff Tally's potential alcohol problem.

Next are 2 extended scenes, one goes a little more in depth between Tally and his daughter concerning her hiding his gun as she had seen him thinking about taking his life. Although this is a good scene in concept, the way it came out wasn't all too dramatic or shocking...

Last is the Taking Hostage Behind the Scenes, a typical 'making of' featurette with cast and crew interviews to go along with clips from the movie. Although it had a feeling of something you'd see on regular cable, they did leave the curse words in rather than bleeping it... Decent featurette with a little depth as they did interview a former SWAT member who worked with Willis (for the beginning of the film and his mannerisms).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Like the rest of the disc, the sound and picture are standard and undistinguishable to anything else release recently. The Dolby 5.1 mix is fine for this film, though there were moments that needed more "oomph", but still not bad. Picture-wise, it's good and clean, what else is there to say?



.::OVERALL::.

As a DVD, Hostage isn't worth the price of purchase. I personally can't find any reason to watch the film again despite being slightly entertained by its plot (even if it's inplausable at times). Even if you're a die hard (no pun intended) fan of Bruce Willis, skip this one and just wait to buy it previously viewed, otherwise wait to see it on cable.