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Overall Rating
3.29

Awesome: 16.18%
Worth A Look33.82%
Average: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 16.18%
Total Crap: 10.29%

5 reviews, 38 user ratings


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Hostage (2005)
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by Erik Childress

"The Funniest Comedy of 2005. Wait, Itís a Thriller?"
1 stars

Hostage is such a spectacular trainwreck, itís almost indescribable how to discuss it without inserting loglines about laughter. It has a plot that veers wildly out of control, a European director who has seen one too many Luc Besson and David Fincher pictures and a screenplay that doesnít have time to invent logic before establishing the next crisis. The funny thing is that it actually works for about the first 40 minutes. But trust me, itís the least of what is funny about this film.

Bruce Willis plays supremely confident hostage negotiator, Jeff Talley. We know this because he smugly lies down while talking to the bad guys and combs his beard in the process. Talley snaps into action when the situation gets more tense though, especially since he unwisely takes a sniperís shot away from him because ďnobody dies today.Ē A psychicís license he does not have though and soon heís got a dead family on his hands. The one piece of originality about this opening is Talley pulls an opposite by becoming clean-shaven and promoted to Chief AFTER the tragedy. Perhaps itís a lateral move to what seems like a six-officer precinct, but at least heís not getting families murdered.

Ah, but heíll have his chance when Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) (ďyou dream it, we build itĒ for the Chicagoans out there) and his precocious children are held captive on a whim by some neíer-do-well punks. Frothing Dennis (Jonathan Tucker) just wants to steal his car but new friend, Mars (Ben Foster, making his best attempt to be Fargoís Peter Stormare) goes on a shooting spree when the cops show up. Talley makes initial contact before handing it over to the big-boy police, but is then ambushed in his own car by a second set of hostage-takers. Turns out Mr. Smith isnít the cleanest of whistles and these evildoers need a DVD out of the house. (And we know theyíre bad guys because they kill the dog.) To insure they have a wildcard, they grab Talleyís family (which includes Bruceís actual daughter, Rumer, whose acting career now consists of being kidnapped and watching her momís breasts on stage.)

Up to this point, Hostage has been a somewhat ridiculous but incredibly slick action piece. Itís fast and relentless, even as the corners of our mouth are dying to curve upwards. But it slows down just enough for logic to cough-up an ďahemĒ and unleash of barrage of stupidity and over-the-top flamboyance that itís impossible to follow straight into hell.

Take for example the matter of the DVD. Early on, Walter tells his clients where heís putting their special disc. Maybe heís just using code on the hard line, but he stills places the DVD in a case of Heaven Can Wait and into the alphabetized collection in his office. (Alphabetized, of course, except for a copy of the directorís previous film, The Nest, which stands out amongst the Hís.) Now, the baddies have been told where the DVD is, but they donít bother to tell Talley. Forget for a moment that it might be easier to just let the situation resolve itself naturally and business as usual could continue with Walter. But, no.

Instead, they are asking Talley to get the DVD without telling him what it is, preventing him from negotiating it being sent out with an unconscious victim of the crisis. In turn, this forces Talley to wake up said vegetable against all medical sense to find out the name of the DVD. Then, Talley must use little Tommy (Jimmy Bennett) like an amateur John McClane to negotiate his secret air duct hiding place and risk all life and limb to retrieve the DVD. Thank God the kid has a working knowledge of remakes. Itís hard to maintain a straight face when the filmís Macguffin turns the heroes and villains into psychotic Blockbuster employees.

And this is only the second act. The insanity bound for you in the final reel is a smorgasbord of brimstone and the ugliness of the most tasteless slasher films. Weíve lost all sense of the potential for a great stand-off between Talley and the various villainous personalities; one, cold & calculated, and the other as just plain reckless. Talley has made his half-hearted attempts at playing one against the other and emotionally scarring the overly eager little boy, but the only suspense created is through the comically bombastic score by Alexandre Desplat.

Director Florent Siri lets us know early on that heís going way over-the-top with this material with his angled shots and grandiloquent opening credits. You can also spot a European director by the way he photographs the young girl heís cast; in this case 17-year old Michelle Horn whose breasts take center stage over her peril. Siri should take a cue from Kim Coates who joins the ranks of David Prowse and Eric Stoltz in performances done behind a mask for a full running time. Then again, thatís precisely what Siri is doing here, covering up an idiotic screenplay (based on a best-selling novel by veteran TV writer, Robert Crais) and a total lack of Hitchcockian savvy by amping up the noise and the lunacy. To his credit, Siri has made one of the funniest films of 2005, but for a film like this to miss on someone who proudly has Commando and Road House in his DVD collection, the incompetence level is staggering.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11793&reviewer=198
originally posted: 03/11/05 15:37:57
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User Comments

2/06/10 MJ Good film. Can't beleve the critics hated it! 4 stars
7/27/09 asdkljfsdklasjd Well, its a movie, and I watched it for entertainment. 5 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
1/29/08 R.W.Welch Overplotted & overwrought, but plenty of action. 3 stars
6/05/06 Jon Great, but you know that they're trying too hard when the kids start swearing >_< 4 stars
4/01/06 ES Ben Foster shoould have won an oscar here. PS Rumor is not hot in the least 4 stars
3/26/06 chris f very good tense film 4 stars
3/03/06 Tanya enjoyed it bruce willis is always good 4 stars
9/15/05 MatthewL Takes itself too seriously, could have been fun, not a drop dead yawn 2 stars
9/05/05 RickyBoy Insulting and embarrassing piece of Hollywoodish excrement. 1 stars
8/23/05 Indrid Cold Enough "surprises" so that we haven't seen it all before, but nothing to write home about. 3 stars
8/17/05 Agent Sands Seriously underrated. Great comeback for Bruce Willis. 4 stars
7/28/05 Monday Morning Above-avg. excitement but got a bit too outlandish 4 stars
7/22/05 tony I thought it was ok. But why the hell is bruce willis still doing this junk 2 stars
7/20/05 Dan Good movie 4 stars
7/04/05 mariann Don't read the jacket...just watch it and get ready to be engrossed from start to finish! 5 stars
7/02/05 Captain Craig Willis promoting himself as a super-hero.Pistols in faces , blood and gore.What`s new? 2 stars
7/02/05 Beth Lots of action. Love Bruce Willis, but ditch the transparent Steven Seagal script next time 3 stars
6/29/05 Alysia awesome movie 5 stars
6/26/05 Jeff Anderson Tense & completely well made. Willis & Foster are great, but Pollak's very badly wasted. 4 stars
6/24/05 tatum Ugly, over the top actioner; straight to video like script 2 stars
5/05/05 Christy Schultz Wasn't what I expected, but still really liked it. 4 stars
4/18/05 Critic Shut Up Haven't seen Willis for Ages 5 stars
4/18/05 ALBERT Wait.is it a critic? 4 stars
4/17/05 David Very nice, ending too fast 4 stars
4/11/05 Bing Ending was awesome, the rest was normal 4 stars
3/29/05 malcolm pretty much the same role willis has been doing since die hard, and i like him doing it 4 stars
3/29/05 Obi Wan Very good action thriller....not too cliched, Willis back to form! 5 stars
3/25/05 jcjs fun mix, different than usual fare 5 stars
3/25/05 RIY L. CAIN JR. Bruce Willis, back in the action saddle. Yippee Ki Yay ! 5 stars
3/23/05 Jack Bourbon Bruce has played this part approximately 900 times 3 stars
3/23/05 Victoria Ross I love Bruce Willis movies 4 stars
3/22/05 Kevin Rose a good movie. 4 stars
3/22/05 xxplosive Great move, willis was ace. 5 stars
3/21/05 Elizabeth S Very disappointing; cliched, and Jonathan Tucker gives an awful performance. 2 stars
3/15/05 OC-SurfGirl Liked it. 4 stars
3/12/05 Ando This movie was sweet! 5 stars
3/11/05 mott the drupal but where are david prowse's boobs? 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Mar-2005 (R)
  DVD: 21-Jun-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Apr-2005




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