Dir Jerry Jameson
Starring: David Oyelowo, Kate Mara, Michael K. Williams, Mimi Rogers , Leonor Varela
Reviewed by Matt Adcock – read: Matt’s interview with David Oyelowo
“I have a demon inside me” Brian Nichols
How far do you have to go before you’re considered ‘beyond redemption’? That’s a key question at the heart of Captive, the impressive fact based crime drama based on hostage victim Ashley Smith’s account: Unlikely Angel.
The plot follows the heart-wrenching impact on two desperate people’s lives when convicted felon Brian Nichols (David ‘Martin Luther King in Selma’ Oyelowo) kidnaps drug addict Ashley Smith (Kate ‘Fantastic Four’ Mara). We get to witness a tense long night of the soul as Nichols holds Smith captive in her home after murdering four people during a frantic escape from the court (where he had just been convicted of rape). As a massive police manhunt rages across the State, Nichols lies low and finds himself interacting with Smith in ways that will potentially change both their lives.
A gritty true crime kidnap-em-up, Captive is at first glance a somewhat unlikely candidate to be a film that carries a heavyweight plug for the power of redemption featuring Christian Pastor Rick Warren’s best-selling book: The Purpose Driven Life. But much like the suitcase McGuffin in Pulp Fiction, Warren’s ‘Christian life motivation tome’ is an interesting element of the plot, which is used sparingly to thought provoking effect.
Director Jameson keeps the action tight and is aided by the powerful interaction of the two leads as they explores issues of including spiritual darkness, desperation and yes redemption but not in an overly saccharine preachy way. Mara is excellent as the twitchy troubled Smith whilst Oyelowo is simply outstanding as the mentally disturbed, psychotic Nichols, who believes that he is fighting a one-man war against his oppression.
Captive provides a strong depiction of two lost souls finding an understanding around their common ground of each having estranged children, which allows their humanity to seep through.
There is strong support from Mimi Rogers as Smith’s aunt who has custody of her daughter and Michael K. Williams as Detective John Chestnut – the lead investigator on the Police task force (who channels the energy of Wesley Snipes at his most dynamic).
Even as film shot through with spiritual energy you should be prepared for scenes of hard drug use and a truly brutal massacre that isn’t an easy watch.
Captive is an intense and tragic thrill ride that will leave you with much to contemplate. Highly recommended.
‘The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.’ This is a quote from The Purpose Driven Life – the book that plays such an interesting role in the film Captive. It’s fascinating because although (spoiler ahead) the book affects Nichols’ thinking and could be shown to have helped set him on the path to a peaceful surrender, it is only one element. There are undoubtedly other factors at work including the fatherly bond this killer has in wanting to see his newborn son and even the ‘coming down’ from the meth drug that he takes in the film during the night.
What is awesome however is that God can work through many and varied factors – both those that seem ‘obvious’ such as the passages of the Christian book but also the associated circumstances. e.g. why Nichols picked Smith’s apartment to hole up in at all.
(end of spoilers)
We should never count out the seemingly incidental things that can lead to people’s lives being changed, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you go buy 20 copies of The Purpose Driven Life and give them to your family and friends (although it probably wouldn’t hurt). Just being open to the situations of others around you is a great start – you never know how or when something you say or do could have an unexpected and life changing effect.
CVM Rating: **** 4 out of 5 stars
Related Films: there’s not much else like this out there!?