I’m sure I watched this for the same reason everyone else did—Bruce Willis. After you meet someone like Willis, nothing is ever the same. When I had the opportunity to be face to face with the man himself, I was more than a little frightened. It was a hot day and I had been out in it for hours just to get a few moments with one of action’s greatest stars. As he approached the table, I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the end, Willis turned out to be gentle as a kitten and as strange as a riddle about a raven and a writing desk. That’s why it’s so amazing to see him in something like HOSTAGE. Willis can turn that intensity on and off at the flip of a switch. Bottom line: He never fails to deliver.
Going into HOSTAGE, I thought I was in for just another average thriller. Willis plays Jeff Talley, a former hostage negotiator who is haunted by a past situation gone bad. In order to escape, he and his family move away to a small community in California. There Talley serves as police chief in an area that feels really safe. Unfortunately this does not last long. Another hostage situation occurs and Talley is called on the scene after another officer is killed in action. Watching another person die in front of him is not what Talley bargained for so he takes off–another terrible idea.
A bunch of dumb teenagers have it in their head that it’s wise to take hostages after breaking into the home of Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak). It all started out as just a simple robbery and evolves into something deeper. Smith ends up not being the greatest guy in the world himself by laundering money to some hardcore criminals. Not to mention that right before these teenagers busted into Smith’s home, he was about to send over some encrypted files to the criminals. Well, guess what? They want those files and are going to do whatever to get it.
Talley must be a really awesome negotiator because the criminals hire a guy to kidnap his wife and daughter in order to get him to go back to the hostage scene. Talley goes back and deals with the teenagers who are being lead blindly by a kid named Mars (Ben Foster). No one seems to realize how crazy Mars is until the situation progresses. Everything gets worse and the story seems to focus more on how insane Mars is over the bigger picture at hand. But really, Mars is one of the most entertaining aspects of the film. Even though he’s a character who seems to have no rhyme or reason for what he does, it is always appealing. Foster falls into his role and makes me even more depressed that he can’t get better films than he does now. Another performance to note when it comes to the teenagers is Jonathan Tucker, who is one of the brothers that doesn’t realize what they go into with Mars and the whole situation. Everytime I see Tucker in a movie I wonder why this kid isn’t getting more screen time. Someone give Tucker bigger roles!
The plot at times veers off path but it’s never boring. Willis does what he does best. That’s all he ever needs to do. What’s amazing is that at times you forget that there are lives at stake and become fixated on Foster. He’s a really troubled guy that you can’t seem to figure out. So HOSTAGE didn’t do anything new for thrillers, but it’s entertaining. You know what else is entertaining? When Bruce Willis claims to have made you blush. He didn’t but like this movie you just take it and enjoy the ride.
Video: I expected this would be a mediocre transfer and actually it’s not that bad. Sure, the majority of the film is shot at night but that never becomes a problem. The darks are never too dark and everything just looks sort of menacing. (2.35:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The audio here is a nice surprise as well. One of the biggest things I always listen in for is dialogue and on this film is comes in clear. The background tracking is wonderful as well. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Audio Commentary by Director Florent Siri: Director Florent Siri serves as commentator here. He dives into the story as well as the technical aspects. It would have been great if maybe Willis or Foster has been a part of the commentary to discuss their own experiences, especially divulging more about the characters. I wouldn’t count this commentary as a must listen unless you really enjoyed the film and want to learn more.
Taking Hostage Behind the Scenes featurette (12:00): Well, I got the interviews I ask for in this from the cast but it wasn’t terribly entertaining.
Deleted Scenes (5:00): A lump of unnecessary scenes that don’t bring anything new to the fold. It’s obvious why they were left out of the film.
Extended Scenes (2:00): I found this more interesting than the deleted scenes. Too bad it’s so short. They also include commentary from the director.