Saturday, May 28, 2005


Year: 2005
Dir: Florent Emilio Siri
Screenplay: Doug Richardson

Stars: BRUCE WILLIS, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Kim Coates, Jimmy Bennett, Michelle Horn, Jonathan Tucker, Marshall Allman, Serena Scott Thomas.

Critics slated this film, and Bruce Willis wants to talk nothing but Sin City, which is a shame, because this action suspense thriller packs a punch that will keep you talking ‘till September.

Hostage is the operative word, and no more so than conjuring up images of predecessors such as Panic Room or The Negotiator. This has elements of both, and then some. A major gripe of some critics is that this is an overly large dose of the same ole same ole, but this is the flip side of the Panic Room.

As the opening credits blatantly testify, and the storyboard imaging reveal, there's a true dark and negative side to the picture. With a lavishly orchestrated soundtrack menacingly reminiscent of 1998’s Cape Fear, we are being set up for something that’s about to go badly wrong.

Bruce Willis is on top form playing Jeff Tally, a LAPD hostage negotiator, on his way out, after the failure of his latest negotiation leads to the death of a mother and child. With his marriage on the brink he decides to take a respite from wife and daughter, in the hope of freeing himself of the memories. He takes a job as local Police Chief of small town Bristo Camino. For a year it works until one fateful day, where paths cross and a whole sequence of events leads Bruce to confess to his deputy that he’s “back on top again”.

If there are gripes with this movie, they are squarely aimed at the “fit as much as you can” school of filmmaking, which director Florent Siri appears to have a degree in. Not to mention the adage of you can never use too much slo-mo. Unfortunately you can. Another gripe of the critics is the believability factor, or rather your disbelief, leave that at the door and you won’t be disappointed.

On the surface it would appear this is your normal Bruce Willis fare, but scratch a little of the subtext and you have a movie of a different kind. You get a cerebral Bruce, you see the sad and broken cop, the desperate father, the tough guy and the man of conviction.

What you don’t appear to get is the wisecracking, full-on ass-kicking Bruce. As hostage negotiator that wouldn’t quite fit, just like the small town chief of police job that he’s settled into, you know it’s not going to last.

But hold that thought... cue major action sequence. When it arrives your senses are bombarded with a kind of ultra violent, rather sadistic blend, rarely seen in a Willis movie. In fact, this is a movie scarier than any teenage horror fan will admit, and reminding you that Bruce can act, even with the white vest on underneath.

Hostage has been tucked away on the sidebar for now, but will no doubt increase in value with age… a little bit like Bruce himself!

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