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THE CAPTIVE Blame Canada

The Captive
The Captive

Directed by Atom Egoyan

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durand, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson

The kidnapping of Cassandra throws her parents’ life into ruin. Eight years later, and her father Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) cruises the Canadian highways searching for his little girl, while her mother (Mireille Enos) is tormented by constant reminders of her daughter’s past. These reminders may not be coincidental, as the paedophile ring that kidnapped their child has further games to play, both with the parents of Cassie and with the police searching for her.

The Captive is a tale told out of order – a jigsaw puzzle meant to intrigue the audience. However its non-linear storyline cannot obscure the fact that this is a fairly simplistic plot. Try as it might to garner interest, all this device actually achieves is to add confusion initially,  distancing the audience from the very beginning. Perhaps a subtler hand could have made something of this, tying the different chronology together with references and significant events. Instead The Captive merely jumps around, with little to no visual clues to place it in the continuum, rhyme or reason apparently absent. In Cassandra’s own words ‘…it’s a trick… no, a gimmick’. Here lies the heart of the issue, this film is never as clever as it thinks it is being. It’s subtly is heavy handed, it poignant imagery is clichéd, it’s a mystery without a dose of mystery, and a lurid dose of crime that is so squeamish about its own subject mater as to present it as squeaky clean as a midday movie.

A significant part of the problem is Kevin Durand. If your introduction is one volcano island lair away from belonging in a Bond film, and you have an Aryan henchwoman, then the film you are in has clearly abandoned any attempt at gritty realism, despite its subject matter.  If the majority of your performance involves humming arias into that talking mirror from This Island Earth while smirking at your victims on monitors, then you belong in an entirely different movie. In the right place it may be a solid performance, but  here, strutting around in a child molester jumper, shooting people with tranquilliser darts… it’s camp, and creepy, and completely mismatched tonally with the rest of the film.

Perhaps the only things that save this film from being even worse is the beautifully harsh snowbound landscape that it is filmed in, and Ryan Reynolds performance. The Canadian landscape is bleak and a strangely pure counterpoint to the sordid subject mater, making for a wonderful setting. Likewise Reynolds’ performance, if not revelatory, is at least solid enough to deserve a better vehicle than this. The rest is a cluttered mess, lacking in talent and direction.

The intent of The Captive is clear, it wishes to follow in the box office success of films such as Prisoners or Gone Girl, but clearly lacks the ability to bring this to fruition. Instead it is a cheap trick poorly bungled.



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