Review: Captive State

Captive State
6 10

captive state bannerPLOT: Ten years after an alien invasion, the planet is now occupied under the guise of peaceful unity. With most of humanity seemingly content with their new lot as an enslaved population, a rebellion arises from a small Chicago neighborhood.

REVIEW: CAPTIVE STATE is relatively audacious as far as alien invasion movies go. Shot a solid two years ago and shuffled around the release calendar so much that the studio seems to have given up on it (no press screenings here in Montreal), it for sure feels like a movie that’s had a few configurations over the years (the synopsis on Wikipedia is thoroughly different from what the film actually is). Nevertheless, it’s often absorbing, even at its messiest, with director Rupert Wyatt constructing a handful of bravura sequences that make it well worth a watch.

In some ways, this plays out like an unwieldy mix of the old mini-series “V”, and Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. Embracing a kind of documentary-like aesthetic, CAPTIVE STATE suffers in some ways from the lack of a protagonist. It initially seems like MOONLIGHT’s Ashton Sanders is the lead, being the little brother of a resistance hero (the commanding Jonathan Majors) who’s being groomed as a snitch by John Goodman’s collaborator cop, but his story is ditched about forty-five minutes in, with him off-screen for the whole second act before re-emerging in the third.

However, it’s this second act that ultimately won me over, although I imagine some will find it alienating. At this point, the narrative is more-or-less dropped so we can follow Majors and his resistance crew as they plan to bomb a unity rally that promises a rare visit from the planet’s mostly unseen occupation. It’s here that the BATTLE OF ALGIERS influence is really felt, with it being a verité style look at the planning of the attack, the recruitment of people to help and the eventual bombing and escape. It takes up a solid half-hour of the running time, but it’s by far the most intriguing part of the film – although I imagine it’s also the aspect of the film that must have thrown the studio for a loop as it’s thoroughly uncommercial.

john goodman, captive state

In many ways CAPTIVE STATE would have likely worked better as a series. There’s enough going on that the story could have taken place over a season rather than a 110-minute film and it might have been more compelling. The storytelling feels compromised to a degree, although the cast is just about perfect, including Goodman, Vera Farmiga, Alan Ruck, Sanders, and Majors – who steals scenes.

It all leads up to a “twist” ending that’s incredibly easy to predict, even if it’s the ultimately satisfying end we’ve been wanting all along. So – CAPTIVE STATE – while flawed, is still more than passable as sci-fi entertainment. There’s enough creativity and sheer filmmaking prowess on display to make it a noteworthy addition to the genre, even if it’s a mess at times and feels somewhat diluted from what it could have been.

Source: JoBlo.com



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