Dan Movie Reviews

Wow – two films in a row! Who would have guessed? And who would have known that this film was a really good one, too!

Hostage is based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crais. Hostage negotiator Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) has taken a job as the chief-of-police of a small Venturay county town after a crisis negotiation goes horribly wrong. He has a bit of dysfunction with his family, but things are about to get worse. Three delinquent youths decide to rob Mr. Smith, who lives in a nice house in the hills. Except it turns out that Mr. Smith is an accountant for an unnamed crime syndicate, and has a delivery due the next day. One thing leads to another, and soon Talley’s wife and daughter are pawns in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in which no one is safe.

I hate to be vague about this. It’s just that the film was actually really good, very tense, and nearly flawlessly executed. The writing is tight. The characters are solid. There is no extra “fluff” – things are exactly what they appear to be, and as such, you’re rooted in the film. It’s not a fast-cut film ala Michael Bay; this one uses well-composed camera shots and placement to work the scene and enhance the tension.

Director Florent Emilio Siri comes from the computer game world, where he directed the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell series. That alone should be a reason to check this film out. Also, the opening title design rocks. Not since, uh, yesterday, have I been so impressed!

The music, by Alexandre Desplat, is excellent. Truly tense, thematic, and in a very noirish Herrmann kinda way, it works on every level. It’s already on my “Best of” list for 2005 – which admittedly is a rather short list, since i’ve only seen 3 films so far. One thing is that there seems to be a starting trend to use soft female solo voices in film scores this year; we’ll see if the trend continues.

This film is violent. It is rated R, and for good reason. People die, and it’s not clean. It’s not pretty. And it’s not something to bring your kid to see. Unlike a computer game like Splinter Cell, this one gets messy, and it’s no accident. But it’s definitely worth seeing.