Friday, November 25, 2005


2005, US, directed by Florent Emilio Siri

Hostage reminds me of Wes Craven's Red Eye: a B-movie set-up played with great conviction and given an injection of directorial panache for a satisfyingly twisted payoff (although the action isn't as pared-down here as it is in Red Eye). Bruce Willis - who could do this kind of thing in his sleep but instead looks as though his life depended on it - plays an LA hostage negotiator who retreats to small-town California after a standoff goes terribly awry. As any alert movie-goer knows, the calm won't last long, although Bruce's bucolic existence is punctured in especially jarring fashion: three miscreant teens (one of them a standard-issue homicidal nutcase) end up under siege in the high-security house of a wealthy, but morally bankrupt, local citizen, and the man's underworld connections (who appear to have near unlimited resources) become involved in order to recuperate an incriminating DVD. There are multiple plot strands at work here, which would be fatal in the hands of a less accomplished director, but Siri, making his US debut, ably juggles the competing storylines to ratchet up the tension, making effective use of his star, who (happily) looks as though he wandered in from the set of Die Hard. The core of the film is the siege of the house, and the multiple attempts to break in - with no regard whatsoever for standard police practice, naturally. Siri employs a highly mobile camera - prowling, swooping and swishing its way along roads, over houses and along corridors - to great effect, although the colour scheme, all ochre and orange, is a little over the top. There's a great opening credits sequence that comes as a surprise in a film like this, and which sets the scene rather effectively for the bravura tone of what's to come.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States