Time: 97 Minutes
David Oyelowo as Brian Nichols
Kate Mara as Ashley Smith
Michael K. Williams as Detective John Chestnut
Leonor Varela as Detective Carmen Sanchez
Jessica Oyelowo as Meredith MacKenzie
Mimi Rogers as Kim Rogers
Director: Jerry Jameson
Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) becomes the subject of a citywide manhunt after breaking out of a courthouse jail and killing four people. His frantic escape brings him to the apartment of Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a single mother and recovering methamphetamine addict. Held hostage by Nichols in her own home, the scared woman looks for guidance from “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren’s best-selling, inspirational book. As she reads aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer come to a crossroad.
Honestly, I didn’t really think Captive was going to be that good of a movie, the trailer honestly looked terrible. The main reason I decided to see it were the leads with Kate Mara and David Oyelowo. Watching Captive, I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be but its still only decent at best. The performances are impressive enough but aside from that, there isn’t many good aspects about this movie. The story isn’t very ‘captivating’, the direction for the most part just feels basic, and the film doesn’t have the emotional impact that its trying to deliver. The lead actors really made this movie at least somewhat interesting to watch.
I think I should mention first of all that this movie is based on a true story, so any clichéd moment in the film I can’t really criticise because it (likely) happened. However, they could’ve done a better job at making it feel more real. Overall the story is passable enough but the only reason that some of the scenes had me interested are because of Mara and Oyelowo, take away their performances and those scenes just really aren’t interesting at all. Those two really made this movie kind of work on some level (I’ll get to that later). One of the things that I dreaded with this movie was something in the trailer for Captive, it seems to have this incredibly ham fisted religious message. Fortunately in the actual film it doesn’t beat you over the head as much as it seems from the trailer. It’s a small aspect of the film, it doesn’t really work within the film but its distracting at worst. Honestly there’s not much to say about the story itself except that its not that interesting but Mara and Oyelowo made it somewhat work.
Kate Mara and David Oyelowo are both great and their performances were the best parts of the movie. They share great chemistry and the interactions with them were the highlights of the film. Kate’s character Ashley is recovering from a drug addiction and while that is often a cliché in a lot of movies, Mara portrayed that very well and made it feel real, I’d probably say that this is one of her best performances. There is a bit of an arc with Ashley recovering from drug addiction and attempting to meet her daughter the same day that she comes into contact with Oyelowo’s character, and while this arc isn’t great, it’s done decently enough. David Oyelowo is really good as well, he’s both incredibly intimidating but also has a human side which Oyelowo effectively conveys. I’m glad that David brought that out because to be quite honest, the redemption arc for his character Brian… wasn’t very good. We are supposed to get the feeling that Brian is changing, but I just didn’t get that. It is so messily done and they don’t clearly convey why he makes certain decisions and goes through certain changes, it feels like the people working on the film couldn’t themselves figure out why he did what he did and so they just didn’t give him reasons. That’s not necessarily on David though, he does a good job with what he has, he’s actually more effective at giving his character humanity than the writers and the director. The supporting cast are also good, with actors like Michael K. Williams involved but its Mara and Oyelowo who are the stand outs.
The direction by Jerry Jameson is fine, there’s not really a whole lot to say about it. Most of the time it feels like a TV movie, its so basic and simple and there’s not much to it. With that said, whenever the film is supposed to be tense, especially during the early scenes with Mara and Oyelowo inside Ashley’s house, it is very effective. It makes you feel claustrophobic and tense as to what Oyelowo’s character might do next.
Captive is not that great of a movie, it just manages to reach the level of passability. Mara and Oyelowo were for me the stand out parts of the movie and prevent this movie from sinking into mediocrity, aside from that, there’s not much reason to check it out. The direction is mostly simple (aside from some admittedly well done tense scenes), the emotion that the movie is going for doesn’t land, the story is average and not always investing, the character arcs aren’t always done effectively, it’s got a lot of problems. If you are curious I suggest checking it out for yourself, but outside the performances, don’t expect anything great.