The Captive, 2014.
Co-written and Directed by Atom Egoyan.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast, Peyton Kennedy and Bruce Greenwood.
With the help of a pair of ambitious detectives, a married couple goes on a tireless mission to find out the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance eight years prior.
The abduction thriller that is The Captive delivers an unrelenting tone along with some standout authentic and eerie performances. Its creepiest moments go hand in hand with its most entertaining.
When we first meet landscaper Matthew (Ryan Reynolds), he is making his way down the snow-filled roads of frozen Ontario. When he stops to pick up a girl in need of a ride, it seems as though the film may be introducing the audience to its abductor. This turns out not to be the case (undoubtedly a benefit to both the audience and the film) as he soon drops her off unharmed at her desired destination. We later come to understand this to be the habit of a wounded man who, after almost a decade, still believes the girl in need of a ride could one day mark the return of his long since, missing daughter.
It was eight years ago when Matthew left his young daughter Cass (played by both Peyton Kennedy and Alexia Fast) in the backseat of his pickup truck while picking up a pie. In one of the film’s most well executed moments, we watch through the door of the bakery in a paralyzing, slow-zooming shot with the looming feeling that something very, very bad is about to take place. Through fierce sideways-falling snow, paired only with the sounds of Mychael Danna’s disturbing, ominous score, we find out that Cass has seemingly disappeared into thin air.
The Captive is told through a non-linear structure. It has a puzzle-like design that jumps between past and present with little to no visual indicators. There are no title card explanations and characters do not dramatically age, forcing viewers to keep a tight hold on the narrative through dialogue and plot. As the story progresses, moving back and forth through time, the truth behind Cass’ disappearance, and the pedophile ring exploiting her, begins to takes shape.
The Captive is a bitingly frigid film. Cinematographer Paul Sarossy captures the harsh conditions of a true North American winter rarely seen on film (Fargo also comes to mind). Oddly enough, the warmest visual contrasts in the film come when we’re introduced to the captor’s lair, which is essentially a chamber of sorts hidden behind a wall in the creepy perpetrator’s home.
The Captive brings together a well-rounded cast, led by an ambitious performance by Reynolds. Coupled with the unshakeable Mireille Enos (“The Killing”), the two play nicely as the couple trying to cope with the loss of their child. Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman give a fresh spin to the detective/lover dynamic but it’s Kevin Durand’s portrayal of pedophile Mika that steals the show. With his thin, pervert mustache, he delivers every line with a disturbing restraint.
Atom Egoyan did a nice job creating a suspenseful story with an atmospheric tone. A tad more empathy built into the character of Cass certainly wouldn’t hurt but that said The Captive certainly still creeps you to the very end.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★