Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Captive: Movie Review

Not captivating enough for a crime thriller.
Atom Egoyan’s second thriller this year and another one about crimes against children. The Captive starts with the kidnapped Cassandra being held captive by the perpetrator himself. It’s an odd way to start the film with the audience knowing who did it. The why he did it is pretty clear too, he’s a creep. It’s hard to create suspense when the audience knows who the authorities are trying to catch. 2014

Directed by: Atom Egoyan

Screenplay by: Atom Egoyan, David Fraser

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, and Rosario Dawson

The intrigue and suspense is supposed to come from the switching time frames. The film frequently flips from present time with teenager Cass still locked up against her will and 8 years earlier when 9-year-old Cass is abducted from her father’s truck. This leads into the estranged relationships that Egoyan likes examining. Her father, Matthew (Ryan Reynolds), hasn’t changed and is still desperately trying to track down her captor. Her mother, Tina (Mireille Enos), also hasn’t changed. Except the marriage has deteriorated and between the two, lots of things changed. We also have scenes with the detective Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) when he first left the police department to join the crimes against children unit and 8 years later as a very jaded investigator desperately trying to create stability in his life.
Matthew Lane (Ryan Reynolds) in a film by Atom Egoyan, THE CAPTIVE.
Photo Credit: ©Queen of the Nights Films Inc.
When Cass’s disappearance is first reported, Reynolds’ Matthew is the lead suspect. Not for particularly good reasons but just because “it’s always the family.” Eight years of “The father did it” and eight years of the father screaming “The police aren’t doing anything” gets extremely frustrating, especially when the audience has known the whole time who actually did it. Non-spoiler hint: it’s not the father.

Alexia Fast as Cassandra in a film by Atom Egoyan,
THE CAPTIVE. Photo credit: ©Queen of the Nights Films Inc.
The characters, how they’re portrayed, and how they have changed, or not changed, over the 8 years is interesting. The stand-offs between Reynolds and Speedman and between Speedman and his boss Rosario Dawson are particularly well-acted. Alexia Fast as the kidnapped Cassandra also gave an interesting point-of-view to a girl who spent her coming-of-age years in a secluded, perverted section of society.

The Captive is uniquely Canadian. Cass was an aspiring figure skater, Matthew’s a rugged landscaper and the whole thing takes place in and around Niagara Falls that is frozen in a constant state of winter. I liked the extremely snow-filled cinematography and it certainly fits with the main themes of the movie.

For a crime thriller, the movie is significantly lacking in thrills. Even the crime itself takes place after we know what happened. The characters shown over 8 years is interesting, but not interesting enough to keep the movie going for 2 hours. And there is no suspense since we know what happened to who, by whom and why within the first scene of the movie. It’s too bad because there are good actors and good ideas throughout the movie.

Similar Titles:

Devil's Knot (2013) - An affecting film of injustice, corruption and hopelessness in Arkansas 1993 (or Salem 1693).

Prisoners (2013) - Two suspenseful approaches to one dark crime.

The Entitled (2011) - Rich kids, poor kids, their parents, and all their attitudes locked in a house.