Review: The Captive
PLOT: A routine errand turns into a nightmare when young father Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) discovers that his daughter, Cassandra, is now missing after having left her alone in his car for a few minutes. As the years go by, Matthew is plagued with guilt, while his estranged wife (Mireille Enos) is tormented by signs that Cassandra may still be alive but working in league with her kidnappers. Meanwhile, two dedicated detectives (Rosario Dawson & Scott Speedman) try to get to the bottom of the increasingly hopeless case.
REVIEW: Dear lord, what has happened to Atom Egoyan? Formerly one of the most beloved Canadian directors, the auteur behind such full-on masterpieces as THE SWEET HEREAFTER has struggled in recent years to find the right project. His highly touted West Memphis Three film, THE DEVIL'S KNOT, was an absolute disaster (not even good enough to be a CBC TV movie) and his latest, THE CAPTIVE, which should have been a disturbing and effective thriller, is unintentionally funny in just how off-the-rails it goes after a promising start.
To be fair, THE CAPTIVE suffers mightily from the fact that it's so similar to the outstanding PRISONERS, with many of the same story beats (such as the dangerously unpredictable father, the tough cop, etc) being repeated here even though both were in production around the same time. This actually somehow got into the Cannes Film Festival back in May, where it wound up being roundly panned by just about everyone, and it had a wide commercial release in Canada several months ago, with it just now coming out in the US after a run on DirectTV.
Suffice to say, the only way THE CAPTIVE can really be enjoyed is just to see how badly awry a film can go even with a top-notch cast, excellent technical credits and an accomplished director. Given the subject matter, it should have been relatively easy to deliver a disturbing, heart-breaking thriller, but in Egoyan's world the abduction of Reynolds' daughter Cassandra leads to an increasingly ludicrous plot where the bad guy (a truly awful Kevin Durand) spies on the parents for years, using mementos from their daughter to make them grieve. He even arranges a face-to-face meeting for Reynolds and his grown daughter, kidnaps one of the cops investigating the case, and has a couple of sidekicks, making him into a ridiculously elaborate almost Bond-style villain.
Faring just as bad as Durand is the usually excellent Scott Speedman, whose cop-on-the-edge character belongs in a Joel Silver eighties action movie and not a supposedly straight thriller. He's so ridiculous that he even picks a fight with Reynolds right after his daughter has been kidnapped in order to rattle him.Pity poor Ryan Reynolds, who seems to have poured a lot of effort into the part, only to be betrayed by a shockingly inept script, although he soldiers on throughout, giving a decent performance, which is a triumph in a movie like this. Of the cast, only Rosario Dawson emerges looking good, with her giving the most coherent performance, even though Egoyan tries to exploit her looks by including a party sequence where she wears a va-va-va-voom-ish dress that looks like something for an Oscar ball rather than what a tough Niagara Falls cop would wear. Still, considering how silly the movie gets at times this almost seems credible.
Truly, THE CAPTIVE is a disaster, but I must admit that it's at least entertaining in a "wow, I can't believe this exists" kind of way. It's a shame though, as with the talent involved this should have been a truly unnerving piece of work. Rather, it's only unnerving due to the fact that no one involved seemed to realize how ludicrous it was turning out. If ever a movie needed a re-write, this is it.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Rosario Dawson should be an A-list star.|