Entertainment » Movies

Captive State

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Mar 14, 2019
'Captive State'
'Captive State'  

There hasn't been a more aptly titled film so far in 2019 then "Captive State." Sitting in a theatre for two hours viewing this tepid, confusing, uninvolving spectacle felt like being a prisoner in the most boring dystopian alternate universe imaginable. Rupert Wyat, who directed the clever reboot of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and the well-received TV reboot of "The Exorcist," has created (along with co-writer Erica Beeney) a world that feels too lived in — meaning you feel like you've walked in to the middle of a friend binge-watching a TV show and you have no idea who the characters are or what's happening.

The film starts okay with a desperate man and his wife racing through downtown Chicago as the city is being shut down. When they find themselves in a tunnel, they are confronted by large, insect-like creatures that attack and kill them, leaving their teenage and pre-teen son alive in the backseat.

Cut to nine years later, when we meet William Mulligan, a police detective investigating a mysterious dissident faction bent on destroying the aliens (known as "The Legislators") that have taken over the world. People aren't happy with a new law of the land, but there are also those that have accepted their new leaders. The problem is it's fairly evident to some that the Legislators are not only using up our resources and using humans to build their new underground homes, but that the human race will eventually be wiped out. This leads to the creation of the Freedom Fighter faction (whose secret — super obvious — symbol is a phoenix) to carry out a plan to destroy them. This involves Gabriel ("Moonlight's" Ashton Sanders), the youngest child left in the car from a decade before, and eventually his older brother, Rafe (Jonathan Majors), who was thought to be dead, but is alive and living off the grid.

Along with a few other random people we don't get to know at all, a plan is formed while Goodman's detective chases after them in an attempt to stop them.

While the film is competently made, the problem is the script that doesn't give us any characters to root for or like. Sure, there are heroes here but we know nothing about them and we never know the stakes — other than "if we don't stop the aliens the world will end." We meet character after character played by actors we recognize who only have a few scenes and then disappear. Vera Farmiga has three small scenes, DB Sweeney has about three lines in the entire film, Alan Ruck ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off") is around here and there, but none of them make any impact. Even our two leads just grumble around, racing back and forth to carry out their mysterious plan. When the aliens show up we are moderately distracted because they look sort of cool, but halfway through the movie they end up donning metallic suits and resembling a chrome version of "The Predator."

This story needed to be a TV series so that we could meet the characters on screen and care about their fates. As they stand, they are one-note tropes that serve the plot to get from point A to point B, but lack any discernible traits to latch onto. As a result, the movie is a profound bore — so much so I was tempted to leave the theatre. The film only picks up in the last ten minutes, when the many references to the Trojan Horse finally come into play. This is also where my interest peaked, and I wanted to see how this played out. Alas, the movie ended and my instinct to run out into the world kicked in.

This is a movie that should have been relegated to Netflix or Amazon, and it's unsurprising why the press screenings for the film were canceled at the last minute. This is a claustrophobic, confusing mess of a film that holds you captive in the worst of ways.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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