I was scanning the movie listings before picking my next film to review. It is March, so I did not dare to expect anything spectacular. My choices were sparse: The Pacifier, Robots, and Hostage. The first movie looked so cliché I did not even bother. The second I was not sure I was young enough to enjoy. So, I grabbed my best boy friend and chose lucky bachelor number three, Hostage. I expected it to be a typical Bruce Willis movie, action-packed, violent, and void of a seriously interesting plotline. What I got greatly exceeded my expectations.
Hostage tells the story of Jeff Talley (Willis) a former hostage negotiator for the LAPD who transfers to a quiet suburban sheriff’s job after experiencing the trauma of a hostage situation that got tragically away from him. On a day that he expects to be “Low Crime Tuesday,” three teenage boys decide to steal a car from an extremely wealthy family. The theft gets out of control when the police respond to the family’s silent alarm system and the problem escalates into a hostage situation. Talley responds after an officer from his unit is shot by one of the boys and finds that the house’s security system has been activated to protect the home, hostages, and criminals like a castle. The house is impenetrable. He decides to turn the case over to higher powers.
Someone, however, still wants him on the job. A group of men who want a DVD with encrypted information on it from inside the house—and fast—kidnap Tally’s family. Talley is now a hostage as well. He has to get the DVD out of the house in order to save his own family, but without endangering the lives of the family trapped inside.
On the surface, Hostage does look like a typical macho-fires-explosions-guns-and “sweet” cars-movie, but there is so much more going on than initially meets the eye. This movie has psychologically thrilling elements to it that I have not seen in a thriller in a while (i.e.; Paparazzi). The character of Jeff Talley draws the audience in and engages them into the story from the first scene. The audience genuinely wants him to get out all right, but he has flaws that a normal hero does not. He is strained and over-drawn. Viewers get a sense that he is not altogether stable. Bruce Willis does a wonderful job of portraying this character. His acting is masculine yet hurt at the same time.
On top of the interesting lead character, this movie has an intriguing look to it. The visuals set a deep, dark, dooming tone. The scenes are full of fog and dark corners. The house is big, looming, and hard. The inside is like a labyrinth. The overall effect adds to the tension and thrill of the story.
I was surprised by what I saw in this movie. I got much more than what I expected in a March release. Hostage is a refreshing (although very violent) break from the post-Oscar movie drought.