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Hostage (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary By Florent Siri. Behind the scenes. Deleted and extended scenes.

HOSTAGE has all the ingredients of a classic Bruce Willis action thriller in that it pits one man against the odds, forces him to strip down to his underwear on one occasion and even lets him run around with a gun.

Unlike the Die Hard series, however, the film also aspires to be a serious psychological drama, which it has difficulty balancing with some of the action footage.

Willis stars as former LAPD hostage negotiator, Jeff Talley, who takes a low-profile job as chief of police in the low-crime town of Bristo Camino following a disastrous negotiation that resulted in the deaths of a young mother and her child.

Talley is called back into action, however, when three delinquent teenagers follow a rich family home, intending to take their car, only to find themselves trapped in the multi-million dollar compound of Kevin Pollack's corrupt accountant.

The trio in question is comprised of two brothers and one complete psychopath who quickly makes matters far worse by shooting and killing one of Talley's cops.

But to complicate things still further, the accountant they have taken hostage (with his two children) works for some particularly unsavoury businessmen who will stop at nothing to ensure their investment is not harmed.

The ensuing battle of wits finds Willis caught in the middle of an increasingly desperate situation, while struggling to confront his own demons about the guilt he still feels for the last botched hostage situation.

Directed by Florent Siri, Hostage begins strongly but has trouble maintaining the quality of its early promise.

The film unfolds at a breakneck pace, piling on the tension with each new twist and even tossing in the odd scare to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

But as events begin to spiral out of Talley's control, so too do they get away from Siri, who cannot resist the urge to splash out on an overblown finale (or make the most of his star's action-based past).

Hence, the latter part of the movie descends into an unlikely shoot-em-up, with Siri calling on slow-motion techniques to showcase the designer violence and throwing logic out of the window.

As a result, the nasty air of menace that exists throughout the majority of proceedings is undone by the in-your-face brutality of the finale, which finds Willis reverting to blood-splattered, gun-totting, family-man hero.

That said, the film works in spite of its flaws thanks to the dedicated performances of just about everyone involved and the clever way in which it manipulates the audience during the early stages.

It might not rate as overly memorable but viewers shouldn't mind being taken hostage themselves for a couple of hours.

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