PLOT: When a single mother with a drug addiction is held captive by a murderer and accused rapist, she must find a way to survive. Thankfully, she has a inspirational book that she can read to him. What this film is really about is selling a book.
REVIEW: The true account on which the new film CAPTIVE was based certainly must have been harrowing. An addict held captive by a man that had just murdered a judge, along with a few other people, is a frightening ordeal and an incredible story. Had this cinematic retelling of the event taken a few chances and not been simply an infomercial for a book, it may have worked. That is not the case however. Rarely does this dismal display rise above a manipulative Lifetime movie of the week. Even with the impressive talent involved - Kate Mara, David Oyelowo and Mimi Rogers - this is a cheap and pandering flick that fails to deliver any real intensity, or really much of anything else.
Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) is a single mother who lost custody of her child because of her meth addiction. The day before a very important mother-daughter beauty pageant she crosses path with an accused rapist and murderer. After murdering a few people, man on the run Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo, who has a producer credit) holds the woman hostage while a massive manhunt is going on to bring him into custody. During their time together, Ashley reads a book to him that one of her 12-step counselors had offered her at a meeting. At first dismayed by the book and its talk of God and faith, Brian - who also has a newborn son - continues to ask Ashley to read to him. And he also does a little bit of meth. If you are unaware of the rest of this story I wont spoil anything. Of course if you are actually watching the film, not one minute will be a surprise or a shock.
With a directing credit for Jerry Jameson and a script by Brian Bird - based on the book by Ashley Smith - this is one hell of a pedestrian affair. At one point in the film, in an effort to make you sympathize with Brian, he exclaims to Ashley that he didnt commit any rape. Of course, we did just witness him murder a handful of people so it makes it a bit difficult to really feel much of anything for him. Ashley however is an innocent for the most part, aside from her addiction, but even still the character doesnt always make the brightest moves. Even the police heading the manhunt come across as clueless. This movie is filled with bad character choices - which to be fair people do make when faced with horrible situation. And again, Im sure the real life event was a horrendous experience for the real life Ashley. Yet placing so much emphasis on that book was a terrible decision - the book in question is The Purpose Driven Life by pastor Rick Warren.
CAPTIVE has serious talent in front of the camera. Kate Mara is a talented actress and she is fine here - although her Southern dialect tends to fluctuate. And the charismatic Oyelowo gives a good enough performance as Brian. The relationship between Nichols and his hostage is a predictable one - and I was not aware of the true story in any way shape or form. After watching the film I did read an account of the story that ran in the New York Post and it was far more engaging than watching this hour and a half of bland filmmaking. Shot similar to a weak episode of Law & Order, there is nothing special or memorable here. And frankly, neither are the performances from anybody involved. This is uninspired filmmaking that seems to only exist to get people to purchase a book.
Even with the talent involved, CAPTIVE is a poor excuse for a feature film. It isnt inspiring. It isnt engrossing. It is just a very long commercial that ultimately leads to a clip from the Oprah Winfrey show where she interviews Ashley and Rick Warren. This is the type of movie that attempts to inspire hope through struggle but fails. The only thing that gave me inspiration was the fact that it was shorter than your average drama. There are good intentions here, and frankly, Ill give it an extra point for that. Its s shame that this is little more than something youd watch on basic cable in the middle of the night if you cant sleep. CAPTIVE may be a dramatic true life story, but it is also a bland film that is anything but captivating.