Film / Hostage

Hostage is a 2005 thriller film directed by Florent Emilio Siri and starring Bruce Willis. It is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Crais, to which it is relatively faithful.

The film opens with ex-SWAT officer turned Los Angeles hostage negotiator Jeff Talley (Willis) attempting to defuse a situation where a man is holding his wife and son hostage due to the wife cheating on him. Alas, he doesn't act quick enough, and the man shoots the two before shooting himself. The son dies in Jeff's arms. This leaves Jeff unable to endure hostage situations anymore, so he moves with his wife and daughter to the (fictional) peaceful suburban hamlet of Bristo Camino in Ventura County and becomes a police chief.

One year later, by which time Jeff's marriage is disintegrating, two teenagers, Dennis and his brother Kevin, as well as their mysterious accomplice Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck, take the wealthy Walter Smith and his two children hostage in their mansion after a failed robbery attempt. Jeff participates in the subsequent police standoff initially, but eventually backs out due to his painful memories. Unfortunately, it turns out that Walter has been laundering money for a mysterious criminal syndicate through offshore shell corporations. He was preparing to turn over a batch of important encrypted files (recorded on a DVD) when he was taken hostage. To protect such incriminating evidence from discovery, the syndicate orders one of their representatives who is known only as the Watchman to kidnap Talley's wife and daughter, and force him to return to the scene to call the police off. Jeff is thus torn between the Smith family and his own... what's a cop to do?

This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain:
    • Kevin, who is only really following his big brother. Dennis also seems this way in comparison to Mars, but doesn't actually qualify in his own right due to clearly being a Jerk Ass.
    • Walter Smith
  • Beard of Sorrow: Inverted; Tally went for a clean-shaven, bald look after his Heroic B.S.O.D..
  • Chained to a Bed: Jennifer Smith (Michelle Horn) is tied to a bed by psycho serial killer mercenary Mars (Ben Foster). She's rescued in the nick of time by her kid brother before Mars can do anything rapey. In somewhat of a fulfillment of the trope's page quote, Mars is later killed during a confrontation with Bruce Willis (although not shot in the face).
  • Disc-One Final Boss: It looks like Dennis is in charge of the hostage situation, until his more deranged friend Mars (who hadn't said much throughout the film) kills him.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard in... well, a house. The director called it "an art house version of the Die Hard films."
  • Evil Versus Evil: At the film's climax, Mars kills several of the syndicate operatives before succumbing to the injuries they inflicted upon him.
  • Film Noir
  • Film of the Book
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Mars with Jennifer. So very, very creepily. Especially when he has her tied to her bed.
  • I Have Your Wife: Bad guy kidnaps Bruce Willis' family to force Bruce to get a DVD that incriminates him from a hostage situation going on elsewhere. After resolving the hostage situation and getting the DVD, he manages to kill the bad guy and save his family.
  • Hostage Situation: Naturally, this is the central plot of the movie. Bruce Willis plays a former hostage negotiator who quit after a hostage crisis gone wrong, but then the house of a family man with connections to a shadowy syndicate is invaded by three armed robbers who have to take hostages after a shoot-out with a patrolman. His own wife and daughter are kidnapped by the syndicate to ensure that he gets a specific package they need out of the house.
  • Important Haircut: Our hero played by Bruce Willis starts out as a stressed out big city hostage negotiator with a full, bushy beard and long, unkempt hair. In the second scene he is now a small town police chief who is a stickler about the dress and deportment of his officers; he is clean shave, head and face, having left the insanity of his former job behind.
  • Kill It with Fire: Much of the penultimate battle involves Molotov Cocktails, one of which ultimately kills Mars.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Mars uses numerous of these to take down the mansion with him.
  • Protect This House: Inverted. As the movie title would suggest, the kids want the cops to get into the house to reclaim it. A good portion of the movie deals with the cops efforts to save the children in the house.
  • Similarly Named Works: invoked The DVD is hidden in a case for the 1943 Ernst Lubitsch film Heaven Can Wait, but Walter also owns a copy of the 1978 film of the same name. Oddly enough, this doesn't actually cause any problems, as Walter's son just grabs both when Talley tells him the name.