Many have complained about some film directors who have made quick-cut, rapid-fire movies that appear more like video games than films. So, what happens when a video game director (in this case, Florent Siri, director of two popular "Splinter Cell" games) makes his first big-budget feature? Unfortunately, a bit of a mixed bag: Siri offers a fairly rich style, Willis gives it his all and then some, and the film boasts a gorgeous set of credits. Still, the material is cliched and generally a bit lackluster.
The film stars Bruce Willis as Jeff Talley, a Los Angeles hostage negotiator who, in the opening sequence, does not manage to save a boy from a hostage taker. Shattered, Talley decides to move to the smaller suburb of Bristo Camino where his problem isn't taking care of crime (not much happens), but trying to make peace with his family: his wife (Serena Scott Thomas) and daughter, Amanda (Rumer Willis, Bruce's real-life daughter) definitely aren't fond of him.
The peace and quiet of the small town is shattered when three reckless teens - Mars (Ben Foster), Dennis (Jonathan Tucker) , and Kevin (Marshall Allman) try to break into the mountaintop mansion of a very rich accountant in order to steal his car. Things soon go South and the kids take the accountant (Kevin Pollack), his daughter, Jennifer (Michelle Horn) and son Tommy (Jimmy Bennett) hostage. When an officer comes to investigate the silent arm, things get much worse and Talley is called in. Of course, the accountant is involved with some very shady characters who arrive on scene and decide to use Talley to get what they want in the house.
The movie manages to be fairly entertaining despite the fact that the screenplay is pretty cliched, including such staples as having the accountant's son be clever enough to get away long enough to deliver information to Talley. The dialogue is also rather creaky at times. Still, Siri does have an eye for interesting visuals (although he does use slo-mo one too many times), the movie boasts a very good score from French composer Alexandre Desplat and the pace is kept up pretty well.
The performances are fine for the material - especially Willis, who puts his all into the movie, despite the fact that it isn't exactly the finest material he's been involved with. The actors playing the teens do the best they can with some rather underdeveloped characters. Pollack doesn't have much of a role, and neither does Rumer Willis as Talley's daughter.
Overall, "Hostage" isn't as good as it seems to think that it is, but it does manage to be a stylish, watchable little thriller, lead by a performance from Willis that has him putting his all into the role.
VIDEO: "Hostage" is presented by Miramax in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is an improvement over some of the other Miramax released that have been offered by the studio in the prior months, but there are still some minor concerns here-and-there. Sharpness and detail remained quite good throughout, as the image appeared consistently crisp and, aside from a few moments, well-defined.
Some minor edge enhancement is present during a few moments of the picture, but otherwise, everything looked a-ok. The print used was in good condition, with no specks marks or other concerns. No shimmering, pixelation or other issues were spotted, either. The film's naturalistic color palette looked accurately rendered, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "Hostage" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Some action sequences - such as the chunk towards the end of the film - put the surrounds to moderate use, but there are fairly lengthy stretches of the movie that are rather dialogue-driven, with the surrounds put to light use at times for reinforcement of Desplat's tense score. Audio quality lived up to expectations for a big-budget new feature, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue, score and effects. Some nice deep bass was felt on a few occasions.
EXTRAS: The DVD offers a commentary from director Siri, deleted/extended scenes (w/ optional commentary) and a "making of" featurette. Sneak peek trailers for other titles from the studio are also included, and play before the main menu.
Final Thoughts: Willis offers a very good performance in "Hostage", a movie that's technically solid, but the material could use some work. The DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and a couple of good supplements. A recommended rental for Willis/action fans.