Film: Hostage (2005)

Cover image


Director: Florent Emilio Siri
Distributor: Miramax

Action superstar Bruce Willis (Sin City, Die Hard, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, Pulp Fiction) powers a nail-biting thriller that crackles with action and suspense! When Jeff Talley (Willis) became chief of police in a sleepy town, he thought he’d left behind the traumas of his career as a big city hostage negotiator. But when a random crime escalates into a deadly standoff, Talley finds himself thrust into a situation far more volatile and terrifying than anything he could ever imagine! Also starring Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects, The Whole Nine Yards), Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Ben Foster (Six Feet Under, The Punisher), this acclaimed hit is based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crais.


You get two hostage crises for the price of one in Hostage, an overwrought but otherwise involving thriller grounded by Bruce Willis’s solid lead performance. Making a dramatic pit-stop on his way to Die Hard 4, Willis plays a traumatized former Los Angeles hostage negotiator, now working as a nearly-divorced police chief in sleepy Ventura County, California. Willis suddenly finds himself amidst two potentially deadly stand-offs when a trio of hapless teenagers seize hostages in the fortress-like home of an accountant (Kevin Pollack) whose connections to organized crime result in Willis struggling to rescue his estranged wife and daughter, who are being held hostage by faceless thugs at an undisclosed location. Having directed two of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell video games, director Florent Siri brings plenty of slick, competent filmmaking to Willis’s desperate dilemma, and the film boasts a gritty, graphic style that draws attention away from implausible plot twists. The bothersome, over-the-top performances by the teenaged villains also slightly compromise this gloomy but emotionally gripping adaptation of Robert Crais’s novel, named as one of’s best books of 2001. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

In the original Die Hard, erstwhile TV star Bruce Willis made the transition to big-screen action hero by convincingly portraying an average man who races against time to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles by virtue of his courage, determination, and resourcefulness. Audiences love him in that kind of role, which is why Hostage works so well. Bruce plays Jeff Talley, a former Los Angles Police Department hostage negotiator turned small-town police sheriff. He’s called upon to find and apprehend three teens who, following their robbery of a convenience store, have taken refuge in a private home that’s a veritable fortress. These kids don’t realize what they’ve stumbled into: The owner (Kevin Pollak) is connected to New York mobsters who are out to recover the large sum of money he’s stolen from them. Adapted from a complex novel by Robert Crais, Hostage is no less intricate than its source, and newly minted director Florent Emilio Siri—previously the designer of edgy video games—rates kudos for juggling several subplots while maintaining nail-biting suspense throughout. Talley is no superman, and his already difficult job is further complicated when masked interlopers capture his wife (Serena Scott Thomas) and daughter (Rumer Willis, one of the star’s real-life offspring). At the same time, the most sociopathic of the three teens (Ben Foster in a blood-chilling performance) plots to murder his two buddies and escape with the homeowner’s daughter ({|Michelle Horn|}). Siri shifts focus from one subplot to another with admirable dexterity, all the while keeping audience attention riveted on the time element. Once the major plotlines are established, we are made keenly aware that, at a certain point, they will converge with deadly results. The violence is genuinely shocking, and there’s an air of sexual menace in Foster’s attitude toward Horn that lends even more urgency to Willis’s predicament. Lurking in the background is Talley’s fear that, having failed miserably in a career-altering L.A. incident, he won’t be up to the challenge. Hostage is well written, vividly acted, ingenious, and intense. But more than that, it’s a triumphant return to form for Bruce Willis, whose post-Die Hard roles haven’t always capitalized on his ability to convey strength and vulnerability at the same time. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Hostage: Original Soundtrack

Hostage: Original Soundtrack

Alexandre Desplat

Book:Hostage: A Novel

Hostage: A Novel

Robert Crais

As the Los Angeles Times said, Robert Crais is “a crime writer operating at the top of his game.” His complex heroes and heroines, his mastery of noir atmosphere, and his brilliant, taut plots have catapulted him into the front rank of a new breed of thriller writers. Hostage proves his earlier success was no fluke. It’s an unstoppable read.

An ex-con with delusions of grandeur and his tagalong brother unwittingly team up with a psychopath one wrong word away from meltdown. When their late afternoon joyride turns into a random act of violence, they take a family hostage in the affluent bedroom community of Bristo Camino. Enter Chief of Police Jeff Talley, a stressed-out former LAPD SWAT negotiator who is hiding from his past. Plunged back into the high-pressure world that he desperately wants to forget, Talley soon learns that his nightmare has only begun.

The hostages are not who they seem, and the home contains secrets that even L.A.’s most lethal and volatile crime lord,…[more]

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