Hostage DVD Review

Starring Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak and Ben Foster

Directed by Florent Emilio Siri

Rated R

Reviewed by Jon Minners

    There are some movies that you donít go to the movies for.  They look good, but you just are not sure, so you pick the surefire hit, end up being disappointed, still get scared away by the lesser known film and wait until it comes out on DVD.  You walk into Blockbuster video, scan the movies and you see the familiar film you passed up before at a much cheaper price than a movie theater rip-off, rent it, bring it home and discover a gem of a movie that may have not been good for the big screen, but is very enjoyable to watch in the privacy of your own home.  Hostage is one of those films. 

The premise seemed good, but the previews never really did the film justice.  However, this film is definitely worth taking a look at.  Starring Bruce Willis, Hostage is an emotional rollercoaster ride that starts out with nail biting action and never lets up, leaving the viewer at the edge of their seat, wondering what will happen next and still thinking about it after the final credits have rolled past the screen.  This is the kind of film that makes you want to watch it again with the commentary track on just to know what the director was thinking. 

Based on the best selling novel by Robert Crais, the film focuses on Willisí character, Jeff Talley, a former hostage negotiator with the LAPD who leaves that role because an unfortunate set of circumstances that leads to the deaths of a young hostage and his mother; deaths Talley could have prevented.  The film journeys a year into the future where Talley has moved on as the police chief for a low-crime suburban town that allows him to still do the job he loves without all the risks involved.  Of course, that ends up not being true, as a group of troublemakers led by the overly psychotic Mars, as played by Ben Foster, go through an elaborate scheme to steal a rich businessmanís Escalade.  That plan goes haywire as the businessman, Walter Smith, played by Kevin Pollack, has a tight security system due to his own illegal activity, leading police to the home, an intense shooting and a dire hostage situation that not only involves Smith, but also his two young children. 

Things couldnít get worse, right?  Wrong.  Mars is absolutely crazy and develops a strange attraction to Smithís daughter.  The two other criminals, brothers, bicker with one another about their situation as Talley tries to negotiate with them, a role that he thought was long behind him.  As soon as he gets the chance to leave the situation to the higher ups, he does, only to be dragged back into it by mysterious criminals who have dealings with Smith; a DVD with encrypted information that is somewhere in the Smith house.  These criminals kidnap Talleyís wife and daughter and force Talley to help them recover the DVD, which can only be done by defusing the hostage situation.  Caught between a rock and a hard place, Talley may have to sacrifice one family to save his own and that is when the real fun begins. 

Someone said this film was better than Die Hard.  Thatís not true, but it does bring Willis back into the role of an action hero, a role that viewers will realize they missed him in, once they see him in action once more.  The film is exciting, dark and very intense.  Willis plays one of his best roles since Unbreakable and then ended up following it up with another great performance in Sin City.  Foster is absolutely psychotic and really brings a gothic, almost-Crow like element to the film, separating him from the other characters in the film; fitting, since his mental state is different from everyone elseís.  Pollack shows his true acting chops toward the end of the film and while some of the scenes seem a little convenient and the plot seems a tad unrealistic, the only real complaint about this film, is that it doesnít deliver the element people were looking for.  As the film moves on, viewers may make several guesses as to who the mysterious villains are.  They will never know the answer.  The faces behind the masks are never revealed, but maybe that is a good thing.  It was different, not typical and it kept at least two viewers discussing the possibilities afterwards. 

Overall, Hostage is an exciting film with a lot of suspense throughout, all culminating in a top notch action sequence and a totally intense ending that was slightly unexpected.  A great score by Alexandre Desplat brings the filmís intensity to a fever pitch.  Hostage may be slightly convoluted, but it is a very enjoyable film to watch.  This film is why DVDs were made. 

     Check out the soundtrack review by Melissa Minners at


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