Review: Captive

It's been awhile since we've had something hit UK cinemas as offensively turgid as Captive - a film that has remarkably made it to the big screen when it should be sitting in untouched supermarket bargain bins. Jerry Jameson directs this 'true life' tale which tackles the story of Brian Nichols' escape from jail in 2005.

For those unaware of this dramatic true life fable, Nichols (David Oyelowo) escaped from Fulham County Courthouse in Georgia in the midst of a trial in which he had been accused of rape. He soon took Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a recovering drug addict/single-mother, captive in her own home.

By the first mention of Christian self-help book, The Purpose Driven Life (when Ashley attends an addict's group), it's clear that Captive is little more than self-serving Christian propaganda. Brian Bird's sloppy and overly generic screenplay gives the impression that it was scripted around it's heavy-handed name-dropping of celebrity preacher Rick Warren's self-help book; with the shoddy paperback making its way into the narrative as subtly as if Christ himself arrived in a bolt of lightning and held it up to the screen screaming "Buy it now!"

The issue is that Captive takes on the home-invasion/fugitive from justice angle, with absolutely no originality or real threat at its heart. At the bare minimum a home-invasion film should be a tense watch that taps into the primal fears of middle-class suburbia - but this is real sloppy, paper-thin stuff that can't even grasp these basic concepts. From Mara's addict using her captivity to lead her on the path to recovery, to Oyelowo's in-over-his-head captor - it just wreaks of unconvincing familiarity and insincerity.

Jameson's direction lacks any spark or excitement with visuals and events unfolding like an extended episode of a sub-par television crime drama, whilst he fails to capture any of the potential intrigue or suspense that the home-invasion subgenre usually successfully taps into.

Mara is fine in a role that is unlikely to leave much of a mark on her CV - albeit this one feels like it should have been played by a forgotten Hallmark channel star of yesteryear. Oyelowo's adds what little depth he can to this paper thin character, but there's not much he can do to save this sinking ship.

If you're brave enough to stick around to the end credits, you'll see toe-curling footage of the real Ashley baring her soul to Oprah in all its garish horror - but thank god she had The Purpose Driven Life to help her recover.

Director: Jerry Jameson
Stars: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Michael Kenneth Williams
Release: 25th September 2015 (UK)
Review 8617103183888287645
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