The Captive (Atom Egoyan, 2014)
The Captive involves every parent’s worst nightmare, and if you have young kids I would advise skipping this one unless you like to embrace paranoia. Abducted when she is only nine years old, Cass (played initially by Peyton Kennedy and then Alexia Fast) remains locked away in a pedophile’s basement eight years later. This is no mystery – we see her kidnapper Mika (Kevin Durand) from the outset, and we know that Cass is still alive and at least physically healthy. The film shifts between various time periods, demonstrating the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, with Tina (Mireille Enos) falling to pieces in her job as a hotel maid, and Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) scouring the highway day after day for any sign of his missing daughter. Rosario Dawson plays the detective trying to infiltrate a child pornography ring, with Scott Speedman her colleague and lover, who seems to make way too many stupid mistakes to be believable. And no, that’s not because he turns out to be involved in the ring – there are no twists at all.
It’s brave to write a script for a film such as this where any mystery is absent, but I’m not convinced that this was a smart move. The Captive never reaches the heights of last year’s much superior Prisoners, which left viewers on the edge of their seats until the final breath. The Captive was gripping enough, aided well by an intense score by Mychael Danna, but there wasn’t much left to wonder about. It also suffered enormously from ridiculous time shifts that were unclear. Nothing differentiated the adult characters between time periods, and there was nothing else to immediately identify what time was being shown. I’ve never seen this done so badly.
It’s clearly difficult subject matter, and The Captive will likely make viewers feel incensed by the sickness of some individuals. As Cass is no longer appealing to Mika as a young adult (thank god) she is utilised for his other sick means. Of course nothing awful is shown or even really alluded to, but even Kevin Durand’s face will provoke disgust. There isn’t much insight into how the cops track down their targets, but this was reportedly deliberate and completely understandable.
There are too many plot contrivances deliberately placed within the script to move things along, and it’s difficult to buy into some of these. In one scene, Mika aborts a video call but can still see and hear the person on the other end because they didn’t turn their camera off after HE terminated the call. I’m no tech-whiz but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t make sense! There are plenty of other dumb mistakes made by various characters which is a major downfall of Atom Egoyan and David Fraser’s screenplay. In addition to the lack of mystery, the finale is reached a bit too quickly and the ending is rather ho-hum.
Ryan Reynolds proves he’s not just a pretty face, and in fact he’s not really pretty at all here due to the facial hair. He does well for a dramatic role, and Kevin Durand ups the ante, almost unrecognisable here. The rest of the cast put in decent albeit not particularly memorable performances. The Captive was reportedly booed in Cannes and some have said it’s better suited for television. It’s not boo-worthy, but the big screen may have been too high an aim.