Regular Dude Movie Review: ‘The Captive’

Above: Ryan Reynolds stars in Atom Egoyan's kidnapping thriller, 'The Captive'
Above: Ryan Reynolds stars in Atom Egoyan's kidnapping thriller, 'The Captive'

I wanted to like this movie.

When I was mapping out which films I was going to see for the month of September, I was hopeful that things would start on a high like they did in August (Guardians of the Galaxy), with the latest from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, The Captive. I like thrillers, procedurals, cop stuff in general and though I hated him in Green Lantern, I’m generally amenable to Ryan Reynolds when he’s not being forced to do way too much.

I didn’t like this movie.

Not many people have. It was booed at Cannes and I can understand why. The Captive is a massive disappointment – a movie with real potential that never gets beyond the surface and ends up being a hot mess of missed opportunities.

Reynolds does an admirable job as Matthew, the distraught father whose daughter is plucked from the back of his pickup when he stops to grab a pie on the way home. His emotions are constantly simmering under the surface and burst through in the spots where you assume they would if you were in his position. And Mireille Enos is solid as his broken wife, Tina, a hotel attendant who can’t bring herself to look him in the eyes and blames him for their daughter’s disappearance.

But everything else about the film is empty and unfinished.

The timelines jump around a little for no particular reason and there are too many all too easy and implausible pieces of the film for it to be a success. It feels like there is a quality movie somewhere in the mediocre offering that hit the screen, but either Egoyan couldn’t figure out how to get there or simply opted against it in hopes that staying on the periphery would make things more unsettling and open to interpretation.

It didn’t – it made it annoying and frustrating to watch.

The film’s creepy captor, played by a quietly disturbing Kevin Durand, ups the ante on a standard kidnapping by allowing his captive to watch her mother agonize over trinkets from her life being placed in the hotel rooms she cleans. In a time where more and more grim and gruesome reality exists in the dark recesses of the Internet, the torturous nature of where Durand’s Mika take things seems plausible and extra cruel.

But he’s a hollow character – “The Bad Guy” – who we learn is a little soft on the boys at work and likes to keep young girls locked away in a secret, dilapidated room in his otherwise modern and meticulous home. Why? Not sure other than he’s the bad guy and there are vile people like him in the world that do these types of things. There’s a whole ring of them, although we never learn anything about them. They’re just the ominous, unseen bad guys that do evil things.

The police, played by Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman, are archetypes more than actual people – Dawson playing the by-the-book do-gooder leading a unit that tracks pedophiles and their unseemly compatriots on the web, and Speedman a hardened, “push the envelope to get results” type. And because a male and female detective can’t possibly work together without hooking up, they also become boyfriend and girlfriend, feeding right into the “let’s keep this as basic and paint-by-numbers as possible” stylings of the film.

The Captive just doesn’t work.

Maybe it could in different hands with a different vision, but Egoyan’s version falls well short and is one you can easily skip.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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