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Directed by Florent Siri.
Written by Doug Richardson.  Based on a novel by Robert Crais.
Starring Bruce Willis.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  3/22/05


As a long-time sucker for a Bruce Willis actioner, I didn't have to think twice about going to see his new film "Hostage."  Of course, I expected it to be somewhere between average and dogshit...much to my surprise, this movie was actually pretty good!

Willis stars as long-time police negotiator Jeff Talley, who has a deal go bad as the film opens, forcing him into a low-profile position as the chief of police in a small town outside of Los Angeles.  Upon taking up his new position, he has to deal with a dicey situation:  some rich-guy accountant (Kevin Pollak) has been taken hostage by three local teens, including lead thug Dennis (Jonathan Tucker) and crazy, trigger-happy thug Mars (Ben Foster).  Since he knows that his tiny police force can't handle a big-time hostage situation, he transfers the case to LAPD...but, things take a turn for the worse from there.

It is this twist--summarized briefly in trailers for the film--that takes "Hostage" from a smells-like-poo-poo hostage drama to a more intriguing action film.  I knew that something was up while watching the credits that this script was adapted from a novel; I was like, "Wait, this is a by-the-numbers hostage movie.  Why would you need to adapt this from another medium??"  As a result, we get a slightly-different approach on how the cops will break the accountant (and his two kids, played by Jimmy Bennett and Michelle Horn) out of the house while taking out the criminals, and this makes the film tense and, well, watchable.

It helps that Willis seems to be working in this one; save for a couple of Willis moments (complete with wiseass commentary and the trademark smirk), he plays Talley well enough to keep the ship moving right along.  The look of the film is excellent, it features a ridiculous rich guy mansion, and has just enough gunplay to keep the 18-to-35 male age range in the audience glued to the screen.  Director Florent Siri (he "directed" parts of the last two "Splinter Cell" games for the Xbox) applies a deft touch to this genre; the mix of action, some laughs, and some light horror moments bring to mind another of the most popular hostage flicks of our time, "The Negotiator", which is in part due to the performances by Willis and the supporting cast.

Hey, what can I say?  "Hostage" doesn't deserve to be anything more than filler, but by doing all of the basics well, it rises just above the normal fluff to give you a satisfying ride.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09