ByJamison Rabbitt, writer at
Host of Reel Reviews television @reelreviewstv as well as the podcasts Movie Mojo Monthly @mojomonthly & Real Films Podcast @realfilmsca

Captive is a film based on real life events surrounding a young mother named Ashley Smith, played by Kate Mara, who is struggling to clean her life up and regain her daughter. As she tries to break the bonds of addiction to meth, her life is interrupted by a violent criminal who has recently shot his way out of jail and looking to hide. Brian Nichols, played by Academy Award nominated David Oyelowo, takes Ashley hostage in her own home in an act of desperation. It's here where the majority of the film takes place, with flashes to the cops in charge of the case trying to track down this killer.

The screenplay for Captive feels a bit like any episode of Law & Order. There's a flurry of action to open with, as the crime is perpetrated, followed by the cops working the case. But it's within the walls of the apartment where the action halts and the strength of the actors pulls the film along. Mara, coming straight off the much-maligned Fantastic Four, is convincing as the woman who is battling the tug of addiction versus her love for her daughter. There are moments where she doesn't always make the right choice, and we see a glimpse of the guilt that's associated with that. But once she is taken captive, her character becomes much more two dimensional.

It's in Oyelowo's performance, however, where the film finds its traction. His Brian Nichols feels real. He feels like a man who has nothing to lose, and innocent lives mean nothing to him, but is truly convinced that he's not a monster. Despite having murdered everyone he'd come into contact with as he made his escape, his first thought goes to his infant son whom he's never met. As his manic desperation and distrust of Ashley wane, he settles in becomes more human. It's his conflict that makes a slow middle section intriguing.

The plot hinges on the teachings found within the book "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Pastor Rick Warren. The book is featured prominently in several scenes, and helps to form a trust between Ashley and Brian, and transform both of their lives. Unlike many 'faith based movies', Captive does not get overly preachy with its message. It presents the story in a very even manner.

The film winds to its rather anticlimactic conclusion, complete with every cliche you've ever heard in a cops and robbers stand-off scenario. Being that it is based off the actual events, and more specifically, Ashley Smith's own memoir titled "Unlikely Angel", we get a postscript on what happened to everyone since these events of 2005. We're even given a few snippets of the real life Ashley Smith appearing on Oprah to tell her story, and meet the man who helped transform her life, Pastor Rick Warren.

Captive is as good as the cast could make it. Minus the performance of Oyelowo in particular, this would have fallen into the realm of blah Lifetime movie. Thankfully, it didn't get to that.

Jamison Rabbitt can be found discussing movies of all shapes and sizes on both @reelreviewstv and @realfilmscast on Twitter.


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