ⓘ Hostage (2005 film)

Hostage (2005 film)

ⓘ Hostage (2005 film)

Hostage is a 2005 American action thriller film produced by and starring Bruce Willis and directed by Florent Emilio Siri. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Crais, and was adapted for the screen by Doug Richardson.

The film earned mixed to negative reviews and was not a financial success on its original release, earning only slightly more than its production costs.


1. Plot

Former L.A. SWAT officer Jeff Talley is a hostage negotiator in Los Angeles. One day, Talley negotiates with a man who has taken his wife and son hostage after learning his wife was cheating on him. Shortly after Talley denies a SWAT commanders request to give snipers the order to open fire, the despondent man kills his wife, son, and himself. Traumatized, Talley moves with his family and becomes police chief in Bristo Camino, a fictional suburban hamlet in nearby Ventura County.

A year later, Talley finds himself in another hostage situation. Two troubled teenaged brothers, Dennis and Kevin Kelly, and a sociopathic accomplice, Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck, all very well-armed, take Walter Smith and his two children, Jennifer and Tommy, hostage in the Smith home after a failed robbery attempt. Dennis had told his younger brother to wait in the car, not anticipating the siege to come, but Kevin refused.

A female police officer, Carol Flores, responds after Tommy turns on the silent alarm. She is shot twice by Mars after being informed by dispatch that the red truck parked by the hostage takers in front of the house is a stolen vehicle just before Talley arrives. She dies in front of him. Traumatized and unwilling to put himself through another tragedy, Talley hands authority over to the county sheriff and leaves.

Smith had been laundering money for a mysterious right-wing militia and mafia syndicate through offshore shell corporations. He was preparing to turn over a batch of important encrypted files recorded on a DVD when he was taken hostage. To prevent the incriminating evidence from being discovered, the syndicate orders a ruthless operative, known as "the Watchman", to kidnap Talleys wife and daughter. Talley is instructed by "the Watchman", to return to the hostage scene, regain authority, and stall for time until the organization can launch its own attack against Smiths house. Otherwise, Talleys wife and daughter will be murdered.

Dennis forces Kevin and Mars to tie up the children, while he knocks out Smith and finds a small fortune in cash, money which the syndicate had paid Smith. In an attempt to end the standoff and secure the DVDs himself, Talley meets with Dennis and agrees to provide a helicopter in exchange for half of the money.

When the helicopter arrives, Dennis and Kevin bring the money to Talley and prepare to leave, but Mars refuses to leave without Jennifer, with whom he has become infatuated. Talley says the helicopter will only carry three passengers and insists Jennifer stay behind, but the deal breaks down and the boys and Jennifer return to the house. Talley learns that Mars is a sociopath who could turn on the hostages and his own accomplices at any moment. Mars does, in fact, kill Kevin, just as Kevin is about to release the children. Mars then kills Dennis.

The syndicate sends fake FBI agents to recover the DVD and they storm the house; Talley is instructed to not go near the house. Jennifer manages to stab Mars, but not fatally, and locks herself and Tommy in the panic room.

Hearing their screams, Talley breaches the house and is attacked by Mars, who then kills most of the fake agents using his pistol and multiple homemade Molotov cocktails. Mars is then shot in the side by the only surviving agent. The agent tracks down Talley and the children, and demands the encrypted DVD. When Talley asks that the children be allowed to leave, the fake agent shoots Talley, but it is not a fatal wound. After Talley gives him the DVD, Mars reappears, carrying two homemade Molotov cocktails, distracting the agent long enough to be killed by Talley. Mars then prepares to throw his last Molotov, but collapses to his knees, weakened by his injuries. He makes eye contact with Jennifer, then drops the Molotov and immolates himself.

Talley escapes with the children by shooting the indoor glass waterfall, which extinguishes the fire caused by Mars first Molotov. He and a recovered Smith then go to a rundown inn where Talleys wife and daughter are being held captive by the Watchman and his crew.

Smith, feigning hatred for Talley, is freed in exchange for the family. While demanding that the Watchman kill Talley, Smith shoots the Watchman in the head. This allows Talley to kill the other gunmen in similar fashion and rescue his own family.


2. Production

The films plot is roughly the same as Craiss novel. The main difference is that the novels complicated subplot involving powerful West Coast Mafia crime lord Sonny Benza was removed, with the film giving little explanation of Walter Smiths criminal associates. The film also makes the first group of hostage-takers somewhat younger in age than depicted in the novel. In addition, the criminal syndicate in the film were portrayed as domestic right-wing extremists rather than a Mafia.

Filming took place in the Malibu area in western Los Angeles County. The exterior views of Smiths lavishly appointed house were filmed at a real house in the unincorporated Topanga Canyon area, between Malibu and Los Angeles; the interior scenes were done on sound stages in Hollywood.

The character Mars, played by Ben Foster, was modeled after Bay Area rap artist Mars by Robert Crais after a friend Dennis Bsharah urged him to look into the horrorcore genre. In the movie adaptation, Foster strongly resembles the rapper. Jonathan Tuckers name was later changed to Dennis.

The movies opening scenes were filmed in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, just east of downtown.

The fictional city of Bristo Camino was possibly intended to be a representation of Ojai or Moorpark. Bristo Bay is the name of Bristo Camino in the 2001 Robert Crais novel.


3. Reception

Critical response

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 35% based on 155 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four.

Box office

The film earned $34.639.939 at the United States box office and a total worldwide gross of $77.944.725.

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