Willis plays Jeff Talley, a former LAPD hostage negotiator who resigns his guilt-ridden, big city post for a quiet, safe position as chief of police in the small town of Bristo Camino. Even with the new surroundings, Talley has yet to heal the emotional scarring he's inflicted on his wife and daughter. Instead of reconciling the damage at home, he runs from it: "See you next weekend" he tells his family before scurrying off to work. It's hardly the behavior you'd expect from someone touted as an expert in mediation.
For Talley, what starts out as just another quiet Monday will soon turn violent. Three juvenile delinquents break into a seemingly secure hillside estate to steal an expensive SUV owned by an accountant known only as Mr. Smith (Kevin Pollak). But the trio quickly gets in over their heads after taking the Smith family hostage and executing the police officers that respond to the scene. Talley is reluctantly forced back into the familiar role he left behind in L.A.
With just this premise alone, Hostage could have been an insightful character study focusing on the correlations between Talley's family crisis and that of the family held hostage. Unfortunately, director Florent Siri doesn't stop here. In fact, Siri puts in so many plot complications that it becomes difficult to make heads or tails of what's happening or whose side we're on. We soon learn that Smith is the point man for an illegal money laundering operation that gets fouled-up by the hostage crisis. This becomes Talley's problem to fix when he's directed by the FBI to retrieve some valuable information from a DVD inside the house. Now, Talley really has his hands full.
There are too many problems here to focus on just one, as the plot is buried in a pool of blood and ashes. Doug Richardson's screenplay, based on the bestseller by Robert Crais, shares a striking resemblance to Panic Room, with the bumbling crooks locked inside a highly secure labyrinth of secret rooms. But Richardson's story lacks all of the tension and resolve that made Room a first-rate thriller. Hostage opts for the easy road by choosing formula over substance.
Willis is comfortable in a role that's not far removed from his parts in countless other action movies. Hostage affords him the opportunity to shed a tear and show an inner side, but the loud dramatic score and slow-motion photography sheepishly underscore these moments. Willis just doesn't have the reach to pull it off entirely on his own merit.
The DVD includes the usual collection of director commentary, deleted and extended scenes, and a making-of vignette.
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th March 2005
Box Office USA: $34.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $34.6M
Distributed by: Miramax
Production compaines: Syndicate Films International, Miramax Films, Cheyenne Enterprises, Stratus Film Co., Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH & Co. KG II, Hostage GmbH
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 100
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Florent Emilio Siri
Screenwriter: Doug Richardson
Starring: Bruce Willis as Jeff Talley, Kevin Pollak as Walter Smith, Jimmy Bennett as Tommy Smith, Michelle Horn as Jennifer Smith, Ben Foster as Mars Krupcheck, Jonathan Tucker as Dennis Kelly, Marshall Allman as Kevin Kelly, Serena Scott Thomas as Jane Talley, Rumer Willis as Amanda Talley, Marjean Holden as Carol Flores, Kathryn Joosten as Louise