Hostage [2005]

You get two hostage crises for the price of one in Hostage, an overwrought but otherwise involving thriller grounded by Bruce Willis's solid lead performance. Making a dramatic pit-stop on his way to Die Hard 4, Willis plays a traumatized former Los Angeles hostage negotiator, now working as a nearly-divorced police chief in sleepy Ventura County, California. Willis suddenly finds himself amidst two potentially deadly stand-offs when a trio of hapless teenagers seize hostages in the fortress-like home of an accountant (Kevin Pollack) whose connections to organized crime result in Willis struggling to rescue his estranged wife and daughter, who are being held hostage by faceless thugs at an undisclosed location. Having directed two of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell video games, director Florent Siri brings plenty of slick, competent filmmaking to Willis's desperate dilemma, and the film boasts a gritty, graphic style that draws attention away from implausible plot twists. The bothersome, over-the-top performances by the teenaged villains also slightly compromise this gloomy but emotionally gripping adaptation of Robert Crais's novel, named as one of Amazon.com's best books of 2001. --Jeff Shannon

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