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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Captive (Blu-ray)
The Captive (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // March 3, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted March 4, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

I felt kind of sick watching The Captive, which tells the fictional story of a nine-year-old girl who is kidnapped and forced into sexual servitude. The subject matter is repulsive and depressing, and Atom Egoyan's film exists far from Taken-esque action thrills. The narrative is compelling enough on its own, so it is too bad Egoyan undercuts himself by inserting enough flashbacks to befuddle his audience. The structure feels unnecessarily gimmicky, and it hampers the overall effect. Even so, actors Ryan Reynolds and Rosario Dawson are strong with grief and determination as they play the girl's father and a local detective, respectively, tracking the kidnapers.

Now nineteen-year-old Cass (Alexia Fast/Peyton Kennedy) is alive. The Captive does not keep that fact a mystery for long. A decade earlier, Cass' father Matthew (Reynolds) left her alone in his truck for five minutes and she was taken by Mika (Kevin Durand) and forced to do unspeakably awful things. For ten years Matthew has suffered with guilt and uncertainty, and is barely able to keep up a marriage to wife Tina (Mireille Enos). Sex-crime detectives Nicole (Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) discover Cass in a pedophilia chat room, luring young girls into a similar trap. She is too old to arouse her captors, and is instead forced to be the smiling beacon into hell.

Apparently based on real-life sex crimes in Canada, The Captive is almost incessantly lurid. Mika's depravity reaches a new peak when he installs cameras in the hotel where Tina works so Cass can watch her mother from behind a computer monitor. He toys with Tina by placing an ice-skating trophy and a baby tooth in her sight, confusing the woman's reality and nightmares. Reynolds continues to search for Cass, both out of love and an unstated desire to escape the unavoidable perception that he is somehow to blame for her disappearance. The story is as stark as the snowy landscape, and there is not a moment of humor or reprieve to be found.

I think I liked the whole of The Captive much better than most considering that some of its parts are fatally defective. Egoyan, a Cannes darling with The Sweet Hereafter, got booed this go-round. This film is hard to ignore, but some of the director's choices are puzzling. First, the characters do not act as expected. Tina is almost comatose but only wants to move forward. Speedman's detective may be the dumbest cop in recent memory, and he inexplicably picks a fistfight with Matthew instead of investigating the case. Where Nicole and Jeffrey came from is unclear, as is the motivation for them actively investigating a ten-year cold case. Nicole is supposed to be a hotshot in her field, yet she makes a number of stupid mistakes that endanger her own life.

Durand looks like a sexual predator here, in a cartoony sort of way. His performance is over-the-top, and not in a good way. Looking back, it's kind of perverse that the film almost plays this sexual predator for sick laughs. Poor Fast is way out of her league here, turning in an atrocious performance that does not help her character's cause. Still, there is something compelling about all this madness. You'll be confused by the constantly shifting temporal structure and Mika's continued presence in polite society. Reynolds is good, though, as is Dawson despite the awkward way her character is written. Ultimately, this project feels like Egoyan slumming it in the trenches.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image handles the icy greys and blues of the Canadian landscape well. Black levels and shadow detail are good, as is fine-object detail. There is no shimmering or edge enhancement to mar the image, and colors are nicely saturated.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is subtle but effective. Dialogue is clear and balanced appropriately with effects and score. Some light ambient noise wafts through the surrounds, as do a few action effects, and the LFE helps strum up dread. English and Spanish subtitles are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

Lionsgate includes an UltraViolet digital copy alongside the Blu-ray in case you want to watch this lighthearted film on public transit. A slipcover wraps the standard case. Extras include an Audio Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Atom Egoyan; Captive Thoughts (8:49/HD), a fluffy EPK; some Deleted Scenes (13:56/HD); and a superior Alternate Ending (1:51/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Depressing and lurid to a fault, Atom Egoyan's The Captive is a deeply flawed but still watchable drama with a very unpleasant subject. Ryan Reynolds gives a good performance as the father of a young girl kidnaped and forced into sexual slavery, but the film's odd structure and questionable plot points hurt the overall effect. Rent It.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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