Hostage is an effective enough thriller with Willis fitting into his role of a worn out veteran cop like a glove, heck probably better than in Live Free or Die Hard even, but the story itself doesn’t quite past muster despite some decent performances from the supporting cast.
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
Lionsgate | R – 103 min. – $14.99 | August 23, 2011
Directed by: Florent Siri
Writer(s): Robert Crais (novel); Doug Richardson (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker, Jimmy Bennett, Michelle Horn
Theatrical Release Date: March 11, 2005
Features: Commentary, Featurette, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 22.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Note: Portions of this review came from my theater and DVD reviews.
Hostage begins with the typical tragic backstory as hostage negotiator Jeff Talley (BRUCE WILLIS) decisions takes a toll on him (this, of course, comes into play later on). A year later, we find him outside of Los Angeles (where this incident takes place) and now the chief of police of a small town. What starts out as a “low crime Monday” turns into a nightmare when three young punks decide to steal rich guy Walter Smith’s (KEVIN POLLAK) car after an encounter earlier that day with his lovely daughter Jennifer (MICHELLE HORN). What goes from stealing cars turns into a hostage situation after the third of the pack opens fire on a police officer investigating a triggered silent alarm.
Further complicating the situation is Mr. Smith is an accountant working for shady businessmen and is in the possession of an item these bad guys desperately need and who are also concerned with the current situation they’re watching on the news. So, they enlist the help of Talley (by kidnapping his family) to get the item or else. Meanwhile, inside the house the three punks are in over their heads as the complex is surrounded by SWAT and the like and there’s seemingly no way to escape. They want out, Talley wants in. The thrill builds, right?
Hostage was a decent film. It’s a movie to watch on a slow summer day where it’s too hot to do anything except sit on your butt. However, this isn’t a hot summer day (where I am, anyways) and this isn’t a film that I felt was worth the cost of admission. Yes, I think Bruce Willis did a good job with a character that’s only skin deep most of the time; and the thing of it is, normally that would be fine for an actor like Willis who didn’t have much character depth in the Die Hard movies. The difference is, those action films were just that, fluffy action sequences with a semi-taut storyline. Here, though, the tension never really sustained itself until the end. This is a movie with moments of both greatness and of mediocrity, with the latter wiping out some great parts.
The supporting actors I think come out like Willis. Kevin Pollak spends a vast majority of the film clunked out; our three punks (Foster, Tucker and Allman) are your typical thugs who are over their heads (reminded me a bit like the thieves in Panic Room); and Bennett and Horn are also decent as the Smith’s kids. Although these actors more fill a role, they do provide some drama and tension for a plot in need of it.
Making his American cinema debut, Florent Siri had previously made a couple of foreign films as well as a couple “Splinter Cell” games, which explains the opening title sequence done in CGI and which purpose I still can’t figure out. For what it’s worth, Siri (like Willis) brings the story along at a nice pace and kept my attention span long enough to get me to the end.
Unfortunately, I think the biggest problem with Hostage was actually with the story itself. Based on the novel by Robert Crais, this adaptation by Die Hard 2 scribe Doug Richardson doesn’t quite keep the thrilling aspects of the story going. I personally haven’t read the novel (to be honest, I never even heard of it) but this is a problem many book-to-screen adaptations encounter. A book has enough time to flesh out the characters where a movie does not.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
The director’s commentary is the standard kind as director Siri goes through the nueances of the filming process and how he wanted to direct Hostage (which he’s a fan of film noir of the 40s and thrillers of the 70s), neither of which I really took from the movie… Not really a bad commentary, but I have to admit I had some problem understanding him through his accent.
There are 6 deleted scenes (4:55; SD) ranging from a scene between the brothers discussing jacking cars to “Mars Takes Out FBI Team #1”. Usually scenes in these kinds of films are pointless and unnecessary, but I have to say it was interesting to watch.
Next are 2 extended scenes (2:03; SD), one goes a little more in depth between Tally and his daughter concerning her hiding his gun as she had seen him thinking about taking his life. Although this is a good scene in concept, the way it came out wasn’t all too dramatic or shocking…
Both come with optional commentary with Siri.
Last is the Taking Hostage Behind the Scenes (12:40; SD), a typical ‘making of’ featurette with cast and crew interviews to go along with clips from the movie. It’s a decent featurette with a little depth as they did interview a former SWAT member who worked with Willis.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Hostage bursts its way onto Blu-ray with a great looking 1080p high-def transfer. The film, presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio, has a consistent detail level throughout with fine lines and sharp images aided by natural film grain and noise. The color array also looks good especially since it’s a dark film in tone and style which also lends to decent black levels as well. I’m not going to say this is a gorgeous looking transfer nor is it demo worthy, but it’s not doubt a good upgrade over the DVD version.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track in the meantime is alright although I didn’t think it was anything special. First, dialogue levels sounded really crisp and clear and the action sequences, especially the one at the end, provided the most depth to this lossless HD track. It might not be as noticeable upgrade over a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but it’s still at least marginally better.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Hostage is an effective enough thriller with Willis fitting into his role of a worn out veteran cop like a glove, heck probably better than in Live Free or Die Hard even, but the story itself doesn’t quite past muster despite some decent performances from the supporting cast. In any case, the Blu-ray has solid video and audio transfers while the features are pretty basic but at least all ported over. Given the low SRP, this should sell for around $8 in the near future and at that price it’s definitely worth it whether or not you already own the DVD version.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.