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With: Bruce Willis, Jimmy Bennett, Jimmy Pinchak, Jonathan Tucker, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Michelle Horn, Marshall Allman, Serena Scott Thomas, Rumer Willis, Hector Luis Bustamante
Written by: Doug Richardson, based on a novel by Robert Crais
Directed by: Florent Emilio Siri
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, language and some drug use
Running Time: 102
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

Hostage (2005)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Hostage' Fails to Captive-ate

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

Several stock action-thriller ingredients are slung together and served up as new Hollywood hash in Hostage, including a burned-out cop with personal problems, novice young criminals in over their nervous heads, a brave little kid who outwits his kidnappers, and a possible government conspiracy hiding behind seemingly lesser crimes.

Bruce Willis plays an LAPD hostage negotiator who has lost his touch (with bloody results) and retired to a more relaxing job as police chief for a quiet, upscale enclave in the Southern California mountains. He's also left behind an unhappy wife and a bitter teenager (played by daughter Rumor Willis), who pay an occasional visit to quarrel about a possible divorce.

But his tempered tranquility is truly shattered when a simple SUV theft by a threesome of hoodlum drop-outs turns into a cop-killing stand-off at the high-security cliffside compound of a rich resident (Kevin Pollak) who launders money for a group of shadowy, dangerous mystery men.

The young thugs -- led by an unstable, slightly older psycho (Ben Foster) -- put the house on high-tech lockdown (a plot device applied rather arbitrarily throughout), tie up the unconscious Pollak and his two kids, make untenable demands, discover bags and bags full of hidden cash, and only slowly come to realize how much trouble they're in.

But Willis is in trouble too: The dark figures behind all that cash have snatched his wife and daughter, and threaten to kill them if he doesn't get inside the house to retrieve an encrypted computer-CD record of billions in illegal transactions. The way the actor embodies his stoic character's fear for his family is the most salient facet of the film.

While relatively unpredictable in the order of inevitable events, the plot pieces of Hostage eventually all fall into place as expected. The psycho becomes obsessed with Pollak's vulnerably voluptuous daughter (Michelle Horn) while his compatriots begin to panic. The girl's quick-thinking little brother (Jimmy Bennett) escapes into the house's ventilation system, his absence going inexplicably unnoticed for hours on end, and contacts Willis on a cell phone. The conspiracy angle becomes more treacherous when the FBI gets involved, and Willis plays all sides against the middle hoping to save both Pollak's family and his own from terrible fates.

Director Florent Emilio Siri, a veteran of French crime thrillers and video games, has a good grip on the film's tingly tension, but he lets logical and logistical details slip through his fingers on his way toward a climax that goes into cliché overdrive. Soon bad guys are walking through walls of fire in laughably ominous slow-motion (while hard-rock guitar grinds on the soundtrack, of course), and blood-gushing final showdowns are taking place without real-world consequences or follow-up investigations.

Hostage may be nail-biting enough to hold the attention of matinee moviegoers whose cinematic experience doesn't already include dozens of other variations on these same characters, plots and themes. But if you expect anything memorable or imaginative for your ten bucks, look elsewhere.

Miramax's 2005 DVD release comes with director's commentary track, deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, an optional French language track and optional Spanish subtitles. The English language track is in 5.1 Dolby Surround, and the picture is mastered in 2.35:1 widescreen.

In 2011, Lionsgate, which acquired Blu-Ray rights for some of the Miramax library, released a great-looking Blu-Ray edition, complete with all the extras from the DVD.

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