Hostage | B-

director: Florent Emilio Siri
starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster

Hostage is never quite what it appears to be on the surface–not quite the standard hostage movie its advertised as being. Based on external appearances, what seems to be in another long line of cliched hostage dramas turns out to be a pretty engrossing and exciting flick, worthy of some kudos solely for its relative originality. Bruce Willis stars as a disgraced hostage negotiator trying to save two families in Hostage. It will be difficult to speak in great detail about the plot without ruining some of the story points, so I’ll avoid it, but suffice it to say that there are some pleasant surprises (plot-wise) along the way that make Hostage more than a run-of-the-mill hostage thriller.

Right from the creative opening credits does the flick catches your attention, setting up the opening sequence quite nicely as we first meet hostage negotiator-cum-hippie Willis, combing his substantial beard. That’s not to the say the sequence is low-key–it’s anything but and the tension is full-force. Also apparent is the director’s Florent Emilio Siri attraction to sweeping crane and helicopter shots which, along with the slightly overdone music, can make for some unnecessarily dramatic camera shots. Slow motion seems to be another favorite of his, and although used sparingly, it doesn’t work when it is used.

Nevertheless, the movie’s strengths outweigh its faults, and this is most apparent in its characters and plot. It’s based on a best-seller, so the screenwriter obviously had some good material to work with, and it shows. For the most part, none of the characters act as the cliched stereotypes you’d expect to see in this genre. Again, I can’t get into too much without revealing major plot points here, but it’s refreshing to see characters that don’t fit the mold you’ve seen in countless action thrillers of the past. And the plot itself takes you places you never thought it would. As I said, the flick isn’t as conventional a movie as you may think, based on its trailers and commercials. Hostage is a pleasant surprise and worth a watch.

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