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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Captive movie review: prisoner of boredom

Captive red light

So inept a film, so bland and monotonous, that it fails even to serve as the blatant ad for the certain Christian motivational book it would appear to be.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): I don’t need a deity to have a purpose-driven life

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

True story: In 2005, recovering drug addict Ashley Smith was held hostage in her own Atlanta apartment for seven hours by Brian Nichols, who had earlier escaped from the courthouse where he was on trial for rape; in the course of his escape, he murdered several people, including the judge presiding in his case. Afterward, once Nichols had been recaptured, Smith’s story went viral because she said she’d read to her abductor from the Christian motivational book The Purpose Driven Life, by evangelical pastor Rick Warren, and that this was instrumental in defusing the situation. Captive is the movie version of Smith’s ordeal… but if, like me, you had any worry that this would be pure religious propaganda, you needn’t have concerned yourself. This is so inept a film, so bland and monotonous, that it fails even to serve as the blatant ad for the book for it would appear to be. Kate Mara (The Martian), as Smith, and David Oyelowo (Selma), as Nichols, try their damnedest, but director Jerry Jameson has no idea how to build tension or create any sort of connection between his two leads. Jameson’s credits go back to 1970s TV such as The Mod Squad and schlock flicks like Airport ’77, and Captive has the dated, low-budget feel of a decades-old TV docudrama. Screenwriter Brian Bird, a pioneer of “faith-based” entertainment — he was a producer and writer on Touched by an Angel — opted to minimize any material actually from The Purpose Driven Life, which is a good thing: watching someone read to someone else is not the stuff of gripping drama. But it means we never understand what it was that — allegedly — so compelled Nichols to change his wicked ways, and there’s certainly nothing else here that supports it. “It all starts with God,” the book informs us in one of the few reading-to-the-bad-guy scenes. “That’s a bunch of church crap,” he replies. He said it, not me.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Captive for its representation of girls and women.

red light 1.5 stars

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Captive (2015)
US/Can release: Sep 18 2015
UK/Ire release: Sep 25 2015

MPAA: rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse
BBFC: rated 12A (drug use, moderate violence, threat)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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