March 14, 2005


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Bruce Willis returns to tried-and-true Die Hard mode in Hostage, taking along with him regurgitated stock ingredients of the action thriller genre: a burned-out cop with personal issues, dumb dumb dumb kid criminals in over their hardly post-adolescent heads, a brave little kid that could and a possible government conspiracy. And as anyone who’s met my men, Jack, Jimmy and the Captain, the literal regurgitation, makes you say, “What the hell? Where the hell did that come from?” and so does this most recent attempt to resuscitate Willis’s dry heaving career.

The movie opens with a painfully long, slightly out-of-place animated opening credits, then settles into a stereotypical cop drama–only with a higher dosage of LSD. Bruce Willis plays Jeff Talley, a laid-back, tough-but-heart-of-gold-and-truly-concerned hostage negotiator in L.A. who, after delivering a hapless command, ends up killing a mother and a son, moves to a sluggish, Mister Rogers California hamlet, leaving behind an unhappy wife and a bitter teenager (are there any other kind) played by Rumer Willis.

Yawn town is interrupted by three punks in a beat-up truck–tough guy Dennis, (Jonathan Tucker), Jiminie to his Pinocchio brother Kevin (Marshall Allman), and a creepy recent tag-along, long-haired Mars (Ben Forster)–decide to follow home a shiny Escalade to a million dollar house of a corrupt book-cooking accountant with an extensive DVD collection. A silent alarm later, a cop is dead and Taley is exactly where he’s been avoiding. Blah, blah, blah, the homeowner is involved in some shady deal. Blah, blah, blah Talley’s own wife and daughter get taken hostage, too. Oh, the irony of it all.

From here, implausibilities mount exponentially as all logic and common sense instantly disappear. While Hostage is relatively unpredictable, the pieces eventually all fall into place as expected. One of the miscreant youngins quickly reveals a kinky, creepy obsession with the crooked accountant’s daughter as the quick-thinking little brother conveniently navigates the house’s ventilation system. While his absence is left unnoticed, he contacts Talley on his sister’s cell phone.

Hostage is an adaptation of Robert Crais’s novel by Doug Richardson who scripted Die Hard 2 and the forthcoming Die Hard 4. The cast gives an earnest, dedicated performance. Unfortunately, none of them are memorable. To cover up the illogics and irrationalities in the movie, the film keeps the momentum by firing a lot of guns.

The outlandishly uninteresting set of characters situated in pure cinematic clich