Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Captive Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From provocative Oscar-nominated writer and director Atom Egoyan (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, The Sweet Hereafter, 1997) comes a suspenseful tale, The Captive, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) March 3, 2015 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Released theatrically by A24, the tense action-thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson follows a man who must unravel the mystery of his daughter's disappearance before it's too late. The Blu-ray and DVD, featuring audio commentary by writer/director Atom Egoyan, a behind-the-scenes featurette, an alternate ending and deleted scenes.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Matthew (Ryan Reynolds), his wife Tina (Mireille Enos) and their nine year old daughter Cass (Alexia Fast) are a very happy family.  Cass is a figure skater who practices with her partner often and hard. She and her dad have a regular routine where she rests in the back of his truck while he drives then stops to pick up a pie. He takes only moments to pick up the pie, walking less than 50 feet from the truck, yet when he returns his daughter is gone which begins every parent’s worst nightmare where you turn your head for just a moment and your entire life is unraveled. In the next few moments Matthew goes from concerned to angry to panicked.

Two detectives, Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) and Rosario Dawson (Nicole) specialize in cases like this in a child exploitation unit. As Dawson explains in one of the special features they specialize in children who are abused online and they don’t look away. Mika (Kevin Durand) is the pedophile who has taken Cass. As time goes on and Cass ages, she is no longer the focus of Mika’s desires but she is still useful to him in a new way. In exchange for the ability to watch her mother on the computer, Mika talks to children online and brings them into the pedophile ring that Mika is a part of.

As is customary, Matthew is a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance. The pie shop girl tells the police that she never saw anyone in the truck. Even though they loved each other very much the marriage has fallen apart due to the abduction. Mireille Enos describes the relationship as “two people who are absolutely linked in this film, they just can’t look at each other.” When a child goes missing and one parent is directly to blame (the one who left her alone) I can’t imagine how a couple could move past that. The Captive is extremely well cast.  

Writer/Director Atom Egoyan has clearly done extensive research into the topic and understands the motives of all characters involved.  He wrote the part of Matthew with Ryan Reynolds in mind, and Reynolds fully delivers the range of emotions that a grieving parent would face. It was clear that Reynolds would be able to muster the anger a parent in this situation would feel, but he also expertly portrays a heartbroken husband and father, who would do anything to see his little girl again.  

Mireille Enos, an actress I've honestly never been fond of, also provides an amazing performance. She is seen as a happy, balanced wife and mother and later unravels as her world falls apart. Kevin Durand expertly portrays the creepy pedophile and I’ll probably never think of him the same way again. Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson also give performances worthy of commendation.  It’s a shame that this film will likely be overlooked by many viewers.  Had a review copy not been offered to me, I don’t know that I would have been aware of The Captive’s existence.

I've left out a lot of the plot details, because I don’t want to ruin the way the story unfolds. The characters and their specifics aren't given away in the moments after they are introduced.  You’re not always sure if you’re watching the past or the present and you aren't sure which tiny details will become important later on. Upon watching the film a second time, especially with audio commentary you’ll see many small things you missed the first time around. I often watch rewatch films with actors that I like regardless of content or topic. This is a rare occasion where I was impressed by the director for a change and will certainly give his other films a chance. Before The Captive, I had never heard of Atom Egoyan, but it’s now a name I won’t forget.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The Captive is presented by Lionsgate on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a widescreen 2.40:1 ratio.  It’s snowing and baron for the film as a whole and the feeling of the dirty snow on Matthew’s truck is palpable.  In the detective’s office you can focus on the wood paneling and imperfections in the grain. Production design did its job with plenty of small details to notice like pictures, plants, books, and computer screens.  As the characters are stressed and tested you will see the circles under their eyes with accurate skin tones.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The Captive is a primarily dialogue driven film that delivers a profound English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. The dialogue is spoken, yelled and whispered but never requires volume correction.  Music is very minimal but especially important as Cassandra plays the piano and sings in the film.  The actress has a particularly unique speaking voice that glides, and almost sounds fake because it’s so perfect. An opera played in the background at Mika’s home is also very important and shares the same title as the film originally had – Queen of the Night.  It’s clear that all audio choices are deliberate and meaningful.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars) 
Although it’s not a lengthy list of features, The Captive provides just the right amount, and thankfully (because I don’t want to be depressed by the extras) they aren't all centered on all the missing children in the world.

The Blu-ray contains the following bonus features:
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Atom Egoyan – Egoyan provides a very detailed and well thought out commentary where he explains his choice of actors, inspiration, specific shots and their purpose as well as clues that carry on throughout the film.
  • Captive Thoughts (8:43) – Clips from the film spaced between interview with the Director and primary actors.  Each actor provides interesting details about who their characters are and what research and preparation they were able to do.
  • Alternate Ending (1:48) – A darker ending, more open to interpretation is provided.
  • Deleted Scenes – Seven deleted scenes which give more depth and background to the characters.
  • Trailers – Six trailers for other Lionsgate Releases – Revenge of the Green Dragons, Son of a Gun, A Most Violent Year, Wild Card, Vice, and Tusk.
  • Bookmarks
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The Captive is a well planned and executed thriller that's unlike other kidnapping films. All the primary actors deliver spot on performances. This isn’t the typical Taken-like film where a daughter is taken and the father uses his mercenary skills to seek revenge. This is about a family that lost everything in a heartbeat. Cass doesn’t have bad parents who neglect her as she has a family who loves her and a father that made a bad, but understandable choice which led to disaster. Terrifyingly, the film is based in fact and the director offers search terms worth googling to learn more about specific pedophile rings and to learn more about how these people work. As a mother to a young child, I won’t take the step to Google the ring he suggests as I know there are many things you just can’t unsee on the internet. I will keep the heart of the film with me, and think twice about leaving my child alone – even when it appears that there is no danger and I will remember that his safety is not guaranteed. This is a hard reminder of the terrible things that human beings can do to each other.  It’s a heavy topic, but the movie is very well done and the Blu-ray is recommended.

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