Hostage

French action director Florent Siri's U.S. debut, a stylish mess of a thriller, entangles skittish cop Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) in the chaos that ensues when three young thugs imprison a wealthy Ventura County family in their own home. Once the best hostage negotiator in the field, Talley retired after arrogantly bungling the delicate give-and-take with...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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French action director Florent Siri's U.S. debut, a stylish mess of a thriller, entangles skittish cop Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) in the chaos that ensues when three young thugs imprison a wealthy Ventura County family in their own home. Once the best hostage negotiator in the field, Talley retired after arrogantly bungling the delicate give-and-take with a gunman who subsequently killed his family and himself. Tormented by a combination of guilt and self-doubt that nearly wrecked his marriage, Talley accepts a low-stress police job in semirural Bristo Camino. But while his estranged wife, Jane (Serena Scott Thomas), and rebellious daughter, Amanda (Willis' own daughter, Rumer), are visiting, Talley gets dragged back into the fray. Delinquent brothers Dennis (Jonathan Tucker) and Kevin (Marshall Allman), along with Dennis' creepy friend, Mars (Ben Foster), try to steal a car from the garage of wealthy accountant Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak). They fail and hole up in Smith's strangely fortified and wired mansion; Mars kills a cop responding to the silent alarm, so the increasingly panicky punks take Smith and his children, Jennifer (Michelle Horn) and Tommy (Jimmy Bennett), hostage. Talley is ready to surrender the case until a mysterious stranger tells him that his shadowy employers have Jane and Amanda and will kill them unless Talley retrieves a computer disk hidden inside a DVD case in Smith's study. Meanwhile, Smith is beaten unconscious, leaving Jennifer and resourceful little Tommy at the mercy of volatile captors who want entirely different things. Dennis wants the stack of money he found in Smith's safe; Mars wants Jennifer; and Kevin just wants to get out without killing anyone. Talley would like to save everyone, but he's willing to compromise the Smiths for his own family's safety; the question is how far he's willing to go. Willis' Cheyenne Productions developed Robert Crais' best-selling novel and hired Siri, whose relentless THE NEST (2000) — a DVD of which can be glimpsed in Smith's office — was a smash hit in his native France. But the film is a shambling Frankenstein's monster, lurching from character-based conflict to ludicrous horror show awash in flames and blood. Brave little Tommy scuttles through crawl spaces and makes surreptitious cell phone calls to the outside; spunky Jennifer resists Mars' deranged advances; Dennis and Kevin bicker; Talley sweats and worries. The amazing thing is how dull a movie crawling with gunfire, psycho tantrums and stuff blowing up can be when you just don't care what happens to anyone.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: French action director Florent Siri's U.S. debut, a stylish mess of a thriller, entangles skittish cop Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) in the chaos that ensues when three young thugs imprison a wealthy Ventura County family in their own home. Once the best host… (more)

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