Cover Art and Menu: 4/10
One thing the DVD design teams have forced me to do over the years is to find new words for “boring”.  I appreciate that. They are expanding my vocabulary. So, let’s see what I’ve learned in my travels to find alternate ways of expressing my thoughts on the lackluster (see there’s a new word already) covers of DVD’s. As for Hostage, the cover art is tedious with nothing more to offer than the images of Mr. Willis from the movie surrounded by fiery colors. The uninspired menu is actually more interesting, but just as humdrum as the cover with more images of Willis to enjoy. Whew, did I express the full boringness of the whole package properly? Next time I find such a dull and mundane combination of cover and menu art I will surely expand my English language skills even further.

Extras & Features: 5/10

  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary – No great loss here. There are several scenes that are just more of what you see in the movie, but nothing that would have changed the final cut.
  • Extended scenes with optional commentary – More added footage of certain scenes that really isn’t something that would have made any difference to the film if left in.
  • Taking hostage behind the scenes – This feature looks like it was made for a TV spot on some channel meant to promote the movie before it was released. The thing is, if you see this thing first, you don’t need to see the movie. It’s pretty short and doesn’t do much more than hype the big action and the high concept story.
  • Audio commentary by director – Commentary is always a bonus. I like listening to Siri because he has a serious commitment to his film. I may not have really liked the movie, but listening to the director talk about it scene by scene I appreciate his efforts and his drive to make the film his own way.

The Movie: 5/10:

I won’t go so far as to say this movie is bad, that’s too severe. Average isn’t bad, it’s just average and Hostage most definitely falls in that category. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but through the flames, and variety of criminals from low life psycho killer to redneck two bit thief, to big time money laundering mobster types, the story underneath is quite uninteresting. It’s a good thing there are a lot of distractions to keep my eyes busy. That sounds harsh, yes. I should say that this is one of the more original crime, drama, action stories coming from tinsel town, but somewhere through the smoke and mirrors, it falls quite flat.

A cop, ex-negotiator with a tragic incident to fuel his angst and failing marriage trips into a new hostage situation. A hostage situation that is, organized by hapless, loser two-bit criminals, one of whom happens to be a nut-job who likes to watch people die….with me so far? So, amongst this crew is our poor helpless victim. He’s unbelievably wealthy, lives in a house on the side of a rock, and has so much security in his house that our friendly neighborhood creeps hop over his gate and walk into his house as if it were the local Wal-Mart. Smooth.

Oh yea, there are several of those dang “plot holes” laying around, so watch your step as you watch Hostage. You might twist an ankle. But never mind, it’s a no-brainer kind of movie where you leave your inflatable criticisms at the door and hope not to drown in the deep waters of bullshit:) That’s not bad thing. It is what it is. I like some mindless tension and creepy, if not clueless bad guys every once in a while.

I would say that Bruce Willis’s character does have some solid ground to stand on when it comes to a tortured past. He did fail to negotiate a tragic scene once, and now he’s retreated into being Police Chief of a low crime community, while his wife is on the brink of leaving with their teenage daughter (who happens to be played by Bruce and Demi’s real life daughter). After watching the movie and not really knowing why I didn’t care what was going to happen, even if it did give me a few jumps and mildly shocked reactions, I discovered that I didn’t care at all about his family because we don’t get to know them. In the beginning we meet them for about 2 minutes and poof, they are gone. They are part of the bigger story, but I won’t give it all away. From the trailers you do know the tag line, “will a man sacrifice another family to save his own…”, so there ya go. Use your imagination until you see the movie for yourself.

What happens is that you get to know the hostage family up close and personally, while forgetting completely about our hero’s family. This throws a serious wrench in the works. I didn’t want everyone to die, but then again, I wasn’t that concerned that everyone would be saved either. Maybe it’s just me being cold hearted. Here’s how I look at it, I didn’t want the cute but annoying pregnant girlfriend of Nick Cage to get that nasty chemical bomb dropped on her in The Rock. I didn’t want the little biting kid in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events to fall to a nasty death at the hands of the evil overacting count Carrey. I didn’t want planet Earth to get hit by an unreasonably large and unrealistic asteroid in Armageddon. Why would I end up caring about characters in some movies (or whole planets) who are in peril, but not others? Even when the peril seems a bit hokey and unrealistic? The writer/director takes the time either in the beginning or through out the story to build a relationship between us and that person/people/planet.

Hostage cuts to the chase after a very brief and very unemotional segment with the Jeff Talley (Willis) family, and then it was on to the more “interesting” portion of the story. I actually forgot at certain points that his family even existed, which did put a big gash in the tension. When you take away the compassion for certain characters who happen to be in danger, all you have left for the movie to get on with either killing off the bad guy or killing off the hero…neither of which really mattered to me.

The two bit criminals are played by young actors who do their best, I’m sure. However, they are clumsy and do a lot of overacting which makes them seem like they should be in a B movie with some no name or better yet, has been old film hero dude rather than one of the action genre’s best known champions. At times I lost the illusion of these three stooges being the seriously twisted dangerous bad crew they were trying to be. There is the soft one of the bunch, of course, but his softness just becomes annoying when he has no backbone to stop what’s going on and because the other two are not that intimidating so his fear or loyalty is lost on me for sure.

Everyone else does a good job, including the young brother and sister who are trapped in the house with the below average acting troop of bad guys. The teenage girl and her young brother are both played with the right amount of emotion and at no point did I lose the illusion that they were a couple of kids trapped in a horrible situation.

Hostage if full of graphic violence, which is not a problem for me really. I appreciate it when filmmakers don’t shy away from it. I have to say it’s disturbing at times, and it does have that “shock for no real reason” value, but again, it is what it is. The violence is just one more distraction a lack luster story, it’s a deflection from what is otherwise a simple character study of Jeff Tally and his . We all know how much the general public loves a good character study…I might love a slow methodical film that looks into the mind and heart of a tortured character for a couple of hours through dialogue and quiet contemplation, but those kinds of movies often don’t include explosions and bloody confrontations like these action flicks tend to show case so proudly.

Ultimately I did have a few scares, jumps, and gasps. I like Bruce Willis and I actually got into several scenes when I was able to turn off my rational thinking side of the old brain area and soak up all the movie making tricks that are meant to brainwash me ever so slightly into believing Hostage is a classic action movie. Sadly it’s not. It’s just a movie with Bruce Willis that is, at best, average.

Value: 5/10
This is such a generic action drama flick with no solid extras to speak of that putting anything more than a $12 price tag on the thing is ridiculous. This may be a movie some of you will watch a few times, for whatever reasons, but ultimately it’s a RENTAL at best for the rest of us. In fact, if your friend rents it, run to their house, watch it and eat their popcorn for free. That’s a reasonable price, two views for the cost of one rental 🙂