Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Film Review: The Captive (2014)

The Captive (Review)
Canada/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an unfortunate victim of style..."

Matthew Lane (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself entangled in a web of lies as evidence surfaces of his daughter's survival eight years after her disappearance...

The Captive is a convoluted film taking place over eight years – most of the years are indistinguishable, too. The film follows Matthew and his wife, Tina Lane (Mireille Enos), their daughter Cassandra Lane (Alexia Fast), and ICEU investigators Dunlop (Rosario Dawson) and Cornwall (Scott Speedman). For the most part, the story focuses on the investigation. At one point, I forgot all about Matthew. Anyway, Cassandra was abducted at a young age after Matthew left her in the car alone. Although he's initially questioned as a suspect, those accusations are swiftly dropped. Of course, Tina blames Matthew for everything while Dunlop and Cornwall continue the investigation – Cornwall also continues to suspect Matthew. However, Cassandra's survival is discovered years after her disappearance when her image is found on a network for pedophiles. I'll leave it at that for this review. There are some twists and turns, but nothing special. The film leads to a fairly simple ending.

The Captive is an interesting film. At times, it's even a captivating film. It's an engrossing crime drama that explores several perspectives during several different times. Unfortunately, the storytelling is convoluted. For some apparent reason, the filmmakers decide to make this film with a nonlinear presentation. Okay, that shouldn't be a problem, right? In this case, the filmmakers also forgot to add any distinguishable elements for each time. Aside from some very minor aesthetic changes, everything looks the same so you don't know where you're at or what you're supposed to be thinking about until the context kicks in. I don't understand this storytelling decision at all – it adds nothing to the film. And, judging from its concept and some of its plot points, this could have been great. Hell, it could have been fantastic. Unfortunately, only bits and pieces of this film shine due to the storytelling.

The acting is also hit-or-miss. Ryan Reynolds is good in this film. He's obviously charming, as usual, and he conveys some genuine emotion here and there. Mireille Enos potential is spoiled by her character's one-dimensional and cliché writing. There is only one scene where she isn't pouting or blaming her husband, and most of her scenes feel overacted due to the lack of development her character gets. Alexia Fast is also disappointing, but mostly due to her odd dialogue. I believe she has potential, but she sounds stiff and awkward most of the time. Otherwise, the film is technically standard. I liked the melancholic music, at least. The Captive is written by Atom Egoyan and David Fraser; Egoyan also directs. Some of the suspense is great, a few of the performances are strong, but the film is ultimately crippled by the convoluted storytelling. I'm not sure if I should blame the writing, direction, or editing, but someone fumbled.

Overall, The Captive is a decent film. Yes, I bashed it over and over, but I was ultimately engaged and entertained. Like I said, I was even captivated at times. The film is just so disappointing due to the storytelling. It's not like it's the most confusing film ever made, but it was all just so unnecessary. It's an unfortunate victim of style – or what I assume was a stylistic choice. I recommend watching Prisoners over this film, but, if you love the genre as much as I do, this might be worth a rental or stream.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, references to child abuse.

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