Simply Lacking: Our Review of ‘Captive State’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 15, 2019
Simply Lacking: Our Review of ‘Captive State’

Sometimes you can just make something a little too convoluted for its own good…

While Captive State is a solid high minded concept for a sci-fi film that isn’t without some merit it quickly gets muddled as it stops caring about consistent editing, decent acting and little things like logic about 20 or so minutes into the film.

Set in a Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, Captive State explores the lives on both sides of the conflict – the collaborators and dissidents.

There’s no doubt that Captive State has some genuine talent behind it but it over extends itself with a narrative that feels choppy, some weak casting and little too no emotional connection with its characters as it tries to feel like something counter culture and subversive while playing out as more than a little drab.

Coming off of films like The Gambler & Rise of the Planet of the Apes there’s no doubt that Rupert Wyatt has the chops to craft a strong looking film while working on a modest budget (a reported $25 million).  The effects are solid, the aliens look cool and the action sequences are decent; however that’s where the kind things I found to say about this movie ends.

Narratively, it’s kind of a mess and starts getting chaotic and all over the map after it sets up its primary characters.  There’s a messy nature to it all that can’t be overcome and it ultimately becomes a little difficult to follow which just causes us as an audience to dial out.

Every character in this film is either underwritten which falls in the lap of Wyatt and screenwriter Erica Beeney who hasn’t had a script credit since 2003’s The Battle of Shaker Heights and it would appear there’s a reason for that as it tacks on plot twists where we just don’t care if there is one or not, which makes the important plot twist at the end of the movie just feel pretty flat because even though it’s actually a logical tie in for some of the nonsense that came before it, it all felt really forced and could have been pulled off with a little bit more nuance.  Ultimately this really feels like the kind of script for a film that just isn’t nearly as smart as it thinks it is and there just aren’t enough quality performers involved to lift it to a place where it needs to be.

Bless John Goodman for trying to make this work as Police Commander William Mulligan giving us something to grab on to as a man trying to survive and live up to his own ideals in the face of everything that is going on around him.  However on the flip side of that coin, young actors Ashton Sanders and Jonathan Majors just can’t carry the other side of the scenario as young rebellious men trying to resist the imposing forces of the extra-terrestrial force that now runs their lives.  On top of all that we have Vera Farmiga who is totally wasted in her role while there’s a bevy of character actors like Kevin Dunn, James Ransone, Alan Ruck, Kevin J O’Connor who just are there in awkwardly cast plot holder roles and people like Machine Gun Kelly (yeah that guy) and D.B. Sweeney in a random scene for some reason with barely two lines to say.

If there’s ultimately anything that Captive State is consistent at doing, it’s not being all that consistent.  There’s a decent idea for a film in what is presented on screen, but it needed some SERIOUS script doctoring work before it ever made it to production.

  • Release Date: 3/15/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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