With trailers proclaiming this to be his best movie since Die Hard, how could I not see the new Bruce Willis movie on opening night. I have been a fan of his for quite a while, and I really like his style of acting, and the presence that he has on the big screen. That being said, I must also admit that Bruce has made a few bad choices along the way with films like Last Man Standing. With Hostage, it looked like Willis was taking a step back into the dramatic thriller that has garnered him such success, and it looked like just the type of film that I would enjoy him best in. To be honest though, the movie left me wanting a little more, and there is one scene in particular that has been grating on my nerves ever since I saw the movie. I will get to that scene soon enough, but lets take a stroll through the plot and how it played out for us.
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Hostage centers around a former hostage negotiator who has seen better days in his law enforcement career. He finds himself now as the Chief of police in a small rural town in the California mountains, enjoying a slower life than he had been accustomed to. After working for the LAPD, this was a major step back in some peoples opinions, but for the main character Jeff Talley, this is exactly what he needed to regain some semblance of his sanity. He is married with a teenage daughter, and it appears from the outside that the marriage has seen better days. Though there is an underlying love between the 3 of them, it is obvious to see that Talley has put a lot of stress on his home-life to be in a career such as this. One thing I found the movie failed to expound upon, is exactly what the problems were, instead choosing to brush them aside as the movie progressed.
Off in the California Mountains is where the story unfolds, as three teenage boys attempt to steal a very expensive Sport Utility Vehicle from a Father and his two children. The intent is to steal the car and get out, but as things start to go wrong, they instead end up taking the family hostage in their own home. Kevin Pollack plays the role of the father, who appears to be hiding something from us from the very start. He has burned a DVD, and is planning on dropping it off to a set of employers, but it is not till much later in the film that we actually find out what is on that DVD. Unfortunately for the police that want to diffuse this situation from the outside, the house is a fortress that locks down at the flip of a switch. This is where some of the problems of the movie become evident, because if the house is so good at repelling people from coming in, then why didn't it prevent these 3 kids from taking it Hostage.
Being in his jurisdiction, Talley is the man in charge of breaking down the hostage negotiations, but he decides it best to defer control over to the county Sheriff's office. A bold move for someone who has been in charge of tense situations such as these for years, or cowardly if you want to look at it more closely. Could have been a quick movie indeed, but a twist brings him back to the forefront as the people waiting for the DVD, kidnap his family in an attempt to control Talley's actions. You may think at this point that I have given away too much, but I am trying to stick with what the trailers for the movie reveal, and give my opinions on the plot without revealing the ending or the nuances of the story. Ethics and morals start to come in to play within the story, as Talley must weigh the lives of the family he must save, against his own family being held at another location. His character goes through a lot of ups and downs as he weighs decisions that could negatively affect one family, while helping the other.
Hostage is the type of film that is easy to sit back and watch, because there is never a dull moment in the story. There is a lot of heart-pounding drama, and a lot of elements to the story that add realism to it. There are however, plenty of places where the film fails to do its job, and that includes the supporting cast put here with Willis. I couldn't identify with any of the other characters, and found that some of their acting talents were seriously lacking. The exception to this was Ben Foster, who plays one of the boys holding the house hostage. He puts in a great performance as a kid who appears to have had a rough childhood, and now has a screw lose in his head. His scenes help to carry the film when Willis is not the center of attention. Willis also put his daughter into the film as one of the kidnap victims, but I think she has a long way to go before she is a star. In fact, without knowing who she was prior to watching the film, I found her to be distracting at times, and not believable in her part at other times.
This all brings me to the sequence that has been on my nerves for 5 to 6 days now, each time I think about the film. At the end, when the climax has concluded, and the characters lines have been played out, there is one particular scene which has no place in this film. We (the audience) follow an ambulance leaving one of the scenes and driving up into the California mountains. It is watched with the anticipation that something else is coming in the film, and the thought that the Director wouldn't make us watch this if nothing was going to happen. The music is still subdued, so you don't think that it is coming to an end, and instead you watch the ambulance for a longer period of time. For a span of about 1 to 2 minutes, this ambulance is followed, before it fades to a red sunset and the film ends. This scene was so very unneeded, and takes away, instead of adding to, the end of the film. Not taking that into consideration when giving my overall opinion of the movie, I find myself giving this one 3 out of 5 stars. It is very interesting at times, and you don't know which way it is going to turn, but at the end it is just another thriller that will be forgotten, and definitely not something that will ever compete with Die Hard.