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A hostage negotiator has to call upon all of his resources when his own family are at risk. Thriller starring Bruce Willis and Kevin Pollak
Hostage is a thriller with the odd moment of old school stand and deliver action. Bruce Willis stars as Jeff Tally, a Los Angeles hostage negotiator who quits his job after failing to save a child from a suicidal loon. Relocating away from his wife (Scott Thomas) and daughter (Rumur Willis), Tally takes up a police position in the quiet town of Bristo Camino in rural California. His peace, however, is soon shattered when three tearaway teens (Tucker, Foster and Bennett) take a family hostage following a botched theft.
With the siege quickly escalating, Tally finds himself in a situation he hoped never to face again. But as he addresses the problem at hand, it soon becomes apparent that this is unlike any dilemma he's ever faced before - one in which the future of his own family is at stake.
Adapted from Robert Crais' novel by Doug Richardson (screenwriter on Die Hard 2 and the upcoming Die Hard 4.0), Hostage owes debts to all manner of other kidnap thrillers. In particular, it draws rather too heavily on the tone of Ron Howard's Ransom. Proceedings are also hampered by the stylistic flourishes of French director Florent Emilio Siri, who's too keen to impart what he learned from making two hit 'Splinter Cell' videogames. That said, Hostage does have a number of decent thrills. And there are moments of real menace too, many of them coming courtesy of Kevin Pollak's enigmatic Mr Smith.
As for the performances, Willis is very good, if perhaps a little shy of his excellent work in Twelve Monkeys. Making the concerns of fatherhood apparent to even the childless, his is a measured turn which again proves that action heroes are all the more likeable and convincing if they occasionally let their guard down. Serena Scott Thomas also hits her straps, and it's nice to see this attractive actress rescued from Patsy Kensit-style obscurity.
The younger performers also deserve praise, even if Tucker and his cronies are a little on the hysterical side and Rumur Willis could do with being more like her dad and less like her mother. And having schlepped his way through The Whole Nine/The Whole Ten Yards debacles alongside Willis, it's nice to see Kevin Pollak being rewarded with a role worthy of his talents. If only all involved had something a little less predictable to sink their teeth into.
It's neither a great nor incredibly original thriller, but Hostage has its fair share of tense moments. And while Bruce Willis isn't at the peak of his powers, he reminds us that he's one action hero who isn't afraid to act.
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On Film4: 02 April 2015