Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker, Marshall Allman
Director: Florent Siri

Imagine for a moment that you were in some way responsible for the brutal murder of a young mother and her child, what would you do to seek redemption or to bury it in the past?

Well this is the position Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis), a legendary, expert LAPD hostage negotiator, finds himself in, so he decides to quit his high profile position for a low profile chief of police job in a quiet town far away from Los Angeles. Despite a few problems with his wife and daughter settling into the local community lifestyle, he seems to have finally been able to put that horrific disaster behind him, until one apparently peaceful day turns into a living nightmare.

A local man called Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) and his two young children are attacked by three teenagers in their home on the outskirts of the county. What started out as a simple carjacking soon goes very wrong as a policewoman ends up dead and the situation abruptly changes into a very dangerous hostage situation. Talley promptly requests back up and he almost too easily hands over command of the hostage situation to the County Sheriff’s Department. After stopping for coffee he jumps back into his car only to be taken hostage himself by a man in the backseat and is instructed to drive into a dark alley where a van backs up behind him. When the doors of the van are opened to reveal that his own family has now been taken hostage by a group of masked and heavily armed men, this is when everything really kicks into gear.

Jeff is instructed by the mysterious masked man who took him hostage that he is to go back to the crisis with the other kidnapped family and take charge. He will only get his family back alive if he assists his own kidnappers in getting something out of the house where the Smith family are being held hostage. He must now keep his emotions under control and somehow manipulate the situation in and outside the house to get his family back before it’s too late.

Florent Siri has done a fantastic piece of work from all angles with this movie but it is his visuals that are particularly intriguing starting with the opening credits that have a super hero / comic book style to them. Then the lighting in the film seems to get progressively darker as the situation gets increasingly desperate for Talley, which perfectly adds to the tension. The character and story development are sufficient, but could have been improved particularly with the main character, as this would have given the audience a better idea of just what Talley is actually capable of.

A solid return to form for Bruce Willis, he plays it fairly straight with almost no wisecracks. He is very believable as a desperate father and master manipulator who will apparently stop at nothing and risk everything and everyone to get his family back. For his action fans there are one or two expertly and very violently staged shoot out scenes that ought to satisfy.

Ben Foster stands out in the supporting cast by playing against type as a very dark and twisted teenager.

An entertaining action thriller that is definitely worth seeing, watch out for the final exquisitely staged shoot out sequence, trust me when I say that it is a thing of beauty.

4 out of 6 stars