The Captive (2014)
Critic Consensus: Wan and lugubrious, The Captive represents another atmospheric, beautifully filmed misfire from director Atom Egoyan.
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as Young Cass
as Prison Doctor
as Larry (as Wayne Johnson)
as Security Man
as 2011-2013 Cop
as Correctional Officer
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Critic Reviews for The Captive
For all its problems, The Captive does try to hit the themes that have obsessed Egoyan for three decades: desire, death, memory, and time.
Becomes baroque and ludicrous as the Hitchcockian scenario loses its psychological bearings in a web of trashy plot twists and self-conscious jumps in time.
"The Captive" may appear to bite off a little more than it can chew but it's one of the most satisfyingly baroque thrillers of the year, and thanks to a perfectly judged performance by Ryan Reynolds, it's quietly heartbreaking, too.
The infuriatingly vague and downright strange story banishes the haunting delicacy of mood that Mr. Egoyan has conjured so successfully in the past.
The structural gamesmanship is just a smokescreen, a way to obfuscate the pulp nature of what is, ultimately, little more than a glorified, low-aiming potboiler.
Audience Reviews for The Captive
I don't really know what to make of this movie. There's a large part of me that feels that, deep down, there's a really good movie here. It's not a story that we wouldn't have seen before, in fact, parts of it remind me of the excellent Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano. The film has a good enough cast with Ryan Reynolds, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos and Kevin Durand all providing some solid performances. The film's biggest problem, however, is how poorly plotted it is. And what I mean by that is the fact that the movie is literally all over the place when it comes to focus and chronology. Some scenes might take place immediately after the kidnapping itself, the scene after that might take place 6 years after it. So on and so forth. It's honestly really awful structuring. And the fact of the matter is that the film has so many masters and stories that it wants to tell that it's literally all over the place and the film never seems to get its footing because of it. And it's not like a Tarantino-esque approach, where the film might be out of order, but at least it all comes together in a satisfying fashion. The film being chronologically out of order honestly ends up destroying any chance it might've had at being good. The fact that it also wants to go in-depth with any character and their little side story ends up hurting it as distracts from the overall arc that the film is trying to tell, which is Matthew's and Tina's search to get their daughter back. There are large instances of the film that focus solely on either the investigators or the actual kidnapper and Cass and it just hurts the movie. The fact of the matter is that, with this movie, you don't need to focus on those characters in order to tell this story in an effective fashion. Well I think you need Matthew, Tina and the kidnapper. That's really the core of the film. Particularly during the climax, when Matthew finds out who actually kidnapped his daughter. The film might've been better if Matthew figured it out earlier and they had more of a cat-and-mouse effect, with Matthew trying to acquire evidence to get the cops to go after the real kidnapper instead of treating him as the one and only suspect. The film, instead, muddled that up with unnecessary characters and plot points. Rosario Dawson's character gets kidnapped for, literally, no reason whatsoever. Just cause. I mean, she did take down a person involved in this pedophile ring, but there's no real reason for her kidnapping past the person taken down wanting her to be kidnapped. And when they DO kidnap her, there's no real actual follow up. It's like they forgot why they put Dawson's character in that situation in the first place. Again, it just takes up time that would've been better spent focusing on what really matters in the film. I think this is just Atom Egoyan trying to be artsy, like an even less talented Gus Van Sant. Think about that for a second. The film is beautifully shot, I'll admit that, but there's nothing about the cinematography that accentuates what's going on around it. The narrative itself, like I said, is horribly written. There's a good story to tell here, but it's just squandered by bullshit that's not important in the first place. I can't really recommend this movie in the slightest. Solid acting simply can't make up for the fact that the structure is just dreadful.
The whole movie is a mess in terms of plot and leaves you confused as to what is actually happens. Solid performances cannot save what is a poor mans version of the far superior Prisoners.
The story is the star. Minimalist, artfully directed, finely crafted and acted, so that you forget the film-making, the film creates its own reality. There is no trace of voyeurism of the crimes. Rather, it reveals the true motivation as sadism, extending to all involved, including the family, friends and police; not the sensationalist kind, but more banal and almost every day. Nor is it individualistic; it is not centred on the father clearing his name, or the mother's anguish, or the detectives' own issues and personalities, or even the finding of brilliant clues, forensics, confessions and so on. These are all drawn with very quick precision, then left to you. The people are not so different from the average. Sometimes they work things out by accident; sometimes they are slow; sometimes they take the right risk. The film plays out over eight years and switches between times. It creates an uneasy sense of time being suspended, heightened by the unremitting winters. There are what seem to be gaps or loose ends, but these are creating a sense of bewilderment and claustrophobia; the logic is in there. The last scene with Nicole is a thudding, visceral contrast, which goes to the heart of the violence. With almost a documentary style, the film is quite unlike the explosive scandinavian crime thrillers; or the anglo-american formula of strong hero/repulsive villain/devastated victim. It presents the crimes and their aftermath as being very close to the surface of normality. It is a serious, positive treatment of this grim subject, and contains a salutary warning. A provocative film, making the mind work, it does not leave you, after you have left the cinema. Worth the making, and worth seeing.
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