Hostage

Bomb Rating: 

A series of events more contrived than a White House press conference.

It's not often that a director actually foreshadows his own ridiculousness, but director Florent Siri does just that with the opening credit sequence of "Hostage," which resembles the beginnings of a graphic novel. Usually when a director wants to be taken seriously, he tones this sort of thing down, but Siri's lone directing experiences consist of a couple of episodes of the video game "Splinter Cell," of which he's apparently proud in a way that makes normal people uncomfortable.

One wonders if novelist Robert Crais, a well-respected mystery/thriller writer who penned the novel on which this film is based, got the same sick feeling I got watching those opening credits, because exaggeration is the name of Siri's game and when he hits his crescendo, it's like watching the 1st Infantry Division assault a kid's tree house.

Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) is a hostage negotiator in the opening sequence and when things go very wrong, he curls up in a ball and moves his family to the 'burbs where the presumption is that nothing ever goes wrong. We know that Talley is absolutely convinced of this because we see him dressing in his Chief of Police outfit and he has his pants almost pulled up to his armpits. Willis is a bad hair day away from looking like Pee Wee Herman. Self-doubt is fine after a bad day on the job, but Talley is way out of control here.

Faster than you can say "movie irony," some teenage thugs break into a mansion and everything goes to hell. The teenagers are disturbed, especially Mars (Ben Foster), who bears such a striking resemblance to Wormtongue from "Lord of the Rings" that I thought hobbit archers were going to appear and shoot him. Little do the kids know that the home belongs to some kind of mob accountant (Kevin Pollak) and there's a DVD of "Heaven Can Wait" sitting in his office that's full of information so important that the accountant's betters kidnap Talley's wife and child and force Talley to get it back.

Let's face it, this is a lot of plot, but somehow, Siri and the writers don't think it's enough. Piling coincidence upon coincidence, and big music after big music, the story goes awry as Mars is revealed to be a true psychotic and begins behaving like some kind of immortal fire starter. Worse, the writers make a critical error by having the kidnappers tell Talley about the DVD, setting in motion a series of events more contrived than a White House press conference.

I'm not exactly sure why the movie is called "Hostage" and not "Hostages" since there's more than one person held in the house, but perhaps the filmmakers were thinking of the audience.

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