Hostage (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Ben Foster, Kevin Pollack
Extras: commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Featurette

"Hostage" may not have made a huge box office splash but it is nonetheless a pretty good, intense and dark thriller. It is great to see Bruce Willis in a role again that is tailor-made for him. A hero with tough and feelings, without the swagger or unreal coolness of many other modern-day film heroes. Great to see also that Buena Vista Home Entertainment is now bringing this great flick to DVD.

Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) is a hostage negotiator for the LAPD but one day things go horribly wrong when one hostage situation gets out of control and Talley has to watch a little boy die in his arms, killed by his own father. As a result Talley quits the negotiator job and moves to a sleepy small town, taking on the job as the local police chief.

One day a group teenage hooligans break into the house of a rich local businessman, trying to steal his car. But when a police officer shows up at the door, responding to the silent alarm that was triggered, things escalate, turning into a deadly hostage situation. Talley is initiating the case until the county sheriff shows up and then removes himself from the case. But only minutes later he is being kidnapped at gunpoint himself by a group of men. They want something that is in the hostages’ house and they want Talley to get it for them – or else they will kill his wife and daughter, which they have taken hostage in turn.

Torn between saving the hostages and putting a quick end to the situation in order to save his won family, Talley is going through a nightmare that seems to get worse by the minute as he tries to re-assume command of the situation and save everyone’s lives.

"Hostage" is truly a powerhouse of a film. From the opening minutes to the last the film evokes strong emotions and a tight level of suspense that is held up throughout the movie. The plot makes subtle twists and turns, always keeping what you think may happen next out of reach, surprising viewers with something that is just a bit different than you’d expect without being an entirely wild roller coaster ride of surprises. This approach helps enormously keeping viewers constantly engaged and guessing.

The acting is very good throughout and especially Bruce Willis and Ben Foster convince all the way through. Foster’s murderous presence as one of the teenage hostage takers is utterly menacing as his behavior is psychotic and unpredictable.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has prepared a great-looking transfer of the film that is entirely free of blemishes or mars. The image shows no grain and reveals a high level of detail. Presented in the movie’s original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio the transfer is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. Colors are strong and natural and the transfer perfectly reproduces the movie’s dark and oftentimes brooding look. Deep black levels make sure shadows are impenetrable when desired but never lose definition where applicable. No edge-enhancement is evident in the transfer and the compression is also without flaws. Overall this is a great-looking, top notch presentation.

The audio on the DVD comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track that is aggressively making use of the surround channels and creates a sound field that is wide and active throughout. The frequency response is wide with clear high ends and a solid bass extension that makes sure the explosive moments of the film come through powerfully. The dynamic range is also very good flawlessly reproducing the most subtle and the most aggressive moments without problems. This is a modern mix through and through making very good use of the format’s multi-channel capabilities.

As extras the DVD contains an <$commentary,audio commentary> by director Florent Siri in which he discusses many of the elements of the film and also talks about the production in general as well as the approach to adapt Robert Crais’ novel to the screen. A selection of deleted and extended scenes is also included, also with optional commentary by the director to further explain and explore their contents and place in the overall arc.
A brief behind-the-scenes featurette can also be found on the release, giving a rather promotional look at the production of the movie.

"Hostage" is a high octane film offering up a great number of cool surprises and a premise that becomes increasingly tricky and suspenseful as the plot plays out. Great acting, cool direction and a story that has it all mark this film. For anyone looking for a powerful, gripping action thriller, "Hostage" is definitely a film to look to. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.