Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of “Hostage” is its ability to come off as a lot deeper than it really is. Maybe it’s Siri’s dead serious direction or the grimness provided by Bruce Willis as ex-hostage negotiator Jeff Talley but for what is in all intents and purposes a B-movie potboiler “Hostage” is given a nice jolt of extra gravity.
Following a tragedy a year earlier Willis’s Talley is now comfortable living as a sheriff in a quiet Californian community. When a hostage situation between some local punks and an affluent accountant’s (Kevin Pollack) family develops Talley is dismayed at the circumstances but all too happy to hand the job of negotiating to someone else…that is until his wife and daughter are kidnaped by ski mask clad gunmen who demand that he make sure that no one enters or leaves the house. You see this is no ordinary house under siege but the home of an accountant to some very powerful criminals, who care little for who gets hurt as long as their files are not discovered. What follows is Talley’s best efforts to take control of the local police forces, deal with the would be robbers within the house and figure out how to turn the table on those who have threatened him.
While the film moves along at a crisp enough pace as Talley deals with the various factions there is one unescapable fact: how laughable the premise truly is. In effect Talley is protecting
1. His family
2. The family within the house all the while trying to spare the lives of
3. The punks in the house.
It seems as though “the hero who has to redeem a past wrong” concept has been done to death so now we have to add more hoops for our protagonist to jump through resulting in a set up such as this. Perhaps the film’s greatest asset is how straight faced it is, the bloodshed is gory and unromantic and the film’s villains are truly vile, not played for laughs. Willis could have coasted by in a role such as this given all of his past work but brings the right amount of intensity to Talley in order to allow the audience to care for him and his outlandish predicament.
What is most noteworthy is that the performances and the style of the film are so gritty that the audience might become distracted from the fact that the gunmen who have kidnaped Talley’s family could have achieved their goal but not saying anything to anyone at all and allowing the hostage situation in the house to play out. The fact that such gaps in logic can be ignored is a testament to how enjoyable the film is.
While not high art by any stretch of the imagination Siri, Willis and company create a better movie than the premise deserves and create an entertaining B-movie.