Kate Mara has had an interesting year so far. Starring in both Fantastic 4 and The Martian. These films couldn’t be further apart in terms of their reception but Mara wasn’t really responsible for either the failure or success of those movies. Whilst David Oyelowo starred in the very impressive Selma and his performance was a key element as to why that film is so good. So what result have we got as Mara and Oyelowo star in Captive?
I would say that Captive is a similar story for Mara in that her performance will neither make or break the film, she is good in her role as single-mother Ashley Smith. Like Mara, Oyelowo performs well too probably being the more impressive of the two, as criminal Brian Nichols, but again its not a performance to effect the overall result of the film too much but provides a solid foundation to build around. However, its a shame that these good performances just aren’t surrounded with much to support them as Captive certainly has its problems. The tension in the film was always at a just above average level, this really needed to be cranked up a notch to allow the viewer to get really into the events that were unfolding. There was a lot of potential for this and it is explored slightly throughout the film but this could have been enhanced further to create a better atmosphere for the film. This may have helped the pacing too as the film feels a lot longer than it is which isn’t great when the film doesn’t even stretch as far as 100 minutes. Nonetheless the film is very watchable.
If you’ve seen the trailers for Captive you’ll know that one element of the film is the book by Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life. This suggests that the film will explore the themes of God, Christianity and morality. This is done much more effectively that those so obviously evangelical tools that we’ve seen in the past such as God’s Not Dead etc. Although, much like the tension the depth of these discussions only ever go so far. There was such a good opportunity to delve into this issues thanks to the context of the situation but the depth just isn’t there which is a real shame. I’m aware that this is based on a true story and maybe the depth wasn’t there in the real life story but I still think more could have been done with the film. This element doesn’t really feature heavily in the film and towards the end of the film when it does it feels shoehorned in rather than receiving the attention that it deserved. There is some real life footage after the movie and before the credits, this was good and bad. It helped you see the reality of the story but I felt it was a little insensitive too considering the film seemed to be about forgiveness etc.
So whilst Captive is performed well and it’s very watchable throughout I can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. The tension and depth of theme exploration only go so far and leave the audience wanting a little more. Also if I’m honest I don’t think the pre-credit footage worked that well. Thankfully Mara and Oyelowo hold things together enough for Captive not to be a total waste.
Rating – 6/10