Film

True-story hostage drama Captive fails to captivate

Kate Mara and David Oyelowo in Captive
Damon Smith

ADAPTED from the memoir Unlikely Angel by Ashley Smith, Captive is a hostage drama of hope, redemption and wavering faith that provides Kate Mara and David Oyelowo with plum roles as a recovering drug addict and tormented escaped prisoner.

The claustrophobic setting and high stakes should provide Jerry Jameson's modest film with a relentless dramatic momentum and nail-biting tension.

Unfortunately, his picture doesn't kidnap our attention and pivotal scenes between the lead characters are devoid of the verbal fireworks that should be littered throughout Brian Bird's script.

The tempo barely increases when the narrative strays outside of the besieged home to focus on the police operation to end the stand-off with minimum bloodshed.

Criminal Brian Nichols (Oyelowo) breaks out of a courthouse jail and kills four people including a judge and a court reporter. He goes on the run, armed with a police radio, so he can stay one step ahead of Detective John Chestnut (Michael Kenneth Williams) and his partner Sergeant Carmen Sandoval (Leonor Varela).

Nichols steals vehicles at gunpoint, but finds himself trapped in the city with roadblocks cutting off all available escape routes.

So he seeks refuge in the home of waitress Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a recovering drug addict, who could lose custody of her cherubic daughter Paige (Elle Graham) if she can't overcome her cravings for crystal meth.

Trapped in her apartment with Nichols, Smith strikes up an awkward repartee with her emotionally unstable captor, who has a $65,000 bounty on his head.

Unable to use her mobile phone to call for help, Smith confronts her demons and prays for a miracle so she can be reunited with her child, who is being cared for by her aunt Kim (Mimi Rogers).

Closing with a dedication to the victims of Nichols' jailbreak, Captive shoulders its responsibility to the facts, largely sacrificing cinematic thrills for the sake of accuracy. Bird's script makes heavy work of this chance encounter between two lost and deeply damaged souls.

Themes of forgiveness and self-belief are loosely woven into the disappointingly pedestrian narrative, while Mara and Oyelowo work hard to make us care about their characters as the police Swat team prepares to swing into action.

CAPTIVE (12A, 97 mins) Thriller. Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leonor Varela, Elle Graham, Matt Lowe. Director: Jerry Jameson

TWO STARS

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