Cast: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors, Machine Gun Kelly
Director: Rupert Wyatt
I’m just absolutely stunned with almost everything I’ve seen in Captive State. I wasn’t expecting it to be the greatest movie of all time, but nearly everything about this movie is jarring from start to finish. The best way to describe this movie is a sci-fi movie for people who have never seen a sci-fi movie and it completely wastes the talents of actors like Goodman and Sanders. Confusing at its very best and uninspired at its very worst, Captive State is the type of movie I would expect to come out during the dead time of year and at least we know nothing major will come from this.
The film follows two groups of humans in the future after an alien invasion forces Earth to be ruled by this invading species. On one hand, you have the police trying to maintain order and fulfill the wishes of their new leaders. On the other hand, you have the resistance which is made up of people who want the aliens to leave so humanity can have the planet back to itself. The two sides take drastic measures to achieve their goals and leave no option off the table. The areas where the film falls apart are the lack of character development and not having a truly center protagonist. For the first concern, most if not all of the characters are introduced merely so that they exist instead of showing why we should relate to them or empathize with them. Specifically, when the resistance plans their major attack in the first half, it leads to a sequence of what are essentially the sci-fi equivalent of, “don’t worry, I know a guy,” character introductions. This is a classic case of exposition without explanation and the movie just shoves these characters down our throats with the intention of building the story around them. This leads to the second issue which is that the story isn’t centered around any one of the characters introduced. Goodman is listed as the top-billed actor, but his character is one of the film’s antagonists, so he can’t be the one we identify with. I believe the protagonist is supposed to Sanders’s character, but he’s missing from about 50% of the movie, which is tough to build a story around. Imagine if in Rocky, instead of showing us Rocky training for his fight, everything is replaced with Apollo Creed’s point of view of the fight. It’s incredibly hard to tell a story when you don’t have someone to provide some sort of context or point of view to these events. This story is told from some weird third-person point of view and does an incredibly poor job of establishing an emotional connection with the resistance. Captive State just feels like a early-year cash grab that was doomed from the start. I’d normally be fine with a movie like this coming out since usually they end up serving their purpose and moving on, but when you have talented actors like Goodman, Sanders, and Vera Farmiga in your movie and you don’t give them anything to work with, it shows the ability to do more was there but the film choice to be mediocre.
Overall, as long as there’s an audience for these type of movies, studios will keep pumping them out. In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen, but it’s bad enough to walk away from it feeling unsatisfied. At the end of it all, the only thing Captive State keeps captive is its audience by giving them a complete lack of unique story and any character development and will have most people begging for it to end.
Overall Score: 3.5/10