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Hostage Movie Review

originally posted many years ago

After a botched hostage situation, Los Angeles Police Department Negotiator Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) sees nirvana in Ventura County. There, he only deals with the idle, petulant rich and the occasional litterbug.

But before Talley can get his chakra in order, he returns to the game with guns blazing. And before he's done, Ventura County is burning, baby. Like they say, you can take the renegade cowboy off of the streets, but you can't take the cowboy out of Willis.

After a series of emotionally heavy roles (Unbreakable, Hart's
War) and some eccentric characters like the luau shirt-clad borderline psychotic Jimmy in The Whole Nine Yards and its lamentable sequel, Willis is finally returning to his Die Hard roots. Yippity-yo-kai-yay John McClane is back!

The brazen cockiness is still all there, but the impossibly shiny muscles bursting out of a torn wife beater are toned down a bit. And even though this character can dodge bullets and flying shrapnel in a burning building while rescuing children, there's a distinct new feature about Willis' nouveau hero character - he has the ability to emote like Oprah.

Like many other great movie cops, Talley is haunted by the one time he failed to save a life. You can see it in his clear blue eyes, which shine with so much pain like they did in The Sixth Sense and Invincible. The tension floats on the surface of Talley's stoic face like an invisible scar and evidently spills over into his family life where his wife and rebellious daughter (played by real life Willis offspring Rumer Willis) are on the very fiber of the last straw.

So when two trouble-making brothers Dennis and Kevin (Jonathon Tucker and Marshall Allman) and their mysterious friend Mars (Ben Foster) decide to rob the Smith Family home, a modern monstrosity isolated atop a hill like a Hitchockian dream, it's like their lives intersected with predestined purpose. In this case, for a riveting, pulse pounding plot.

Some houses beg to be robbed, don't they? An isolated location and a luxurious home, which is a character in itself, have all the markings of a home invasion robbery. But the teenage boys run into a larger problem than just the local police; it turns out family patriarch Walter Smith (Kevin Pollack) is encrypting highly sensitive information on a disc for a faceless group who aren't very happy to see their guy on the local television news reports. They want the disc, so they kidnap Talley's family and strong-arm him into bending the rules.

The question is: After so many close-up scenes of Talley emoting, can he step up to the plate and play both sides to his advantage? The tension is thick in Hostage thanks to the smart screenplay by Doug Richardson, who is not coincidentally working on Die Hard 4.0.

You will find yourself gripping the armchair until knuckles whiten, but it's not all about explosives and gun battles. Talley is the feeling man's super hero who struggles with decisions and emotional turmoil, which is a bonus for Willis who can now have as much depth as he does brawn.

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