REVIEW: Poor execution dismantles ‘Captive State’

“Captive State” is a movie I wanted to enjoy. It’s a lower budget sci-fi flick helmed by a director I like. Unfortunately, things didn’t really work out.

Directed by Rupert Wyatt, “Captive State” picks up nine years after an alien race landed on Earth and established a treaty with the planet’s leaders. While there’s a peace between the aliens and human leaders, though, the treaty has resulted in massive income inequality.

Additionally, the aliens seem very secretive and in some cases nefarious. As a result, there has been groups of resistance. The film follows Detective William Mulligan (John Goodman) who’s investigating the rebels and Gabriel Drummond (Ashton Sanders), a young man who’s related to one of the opposition leaders.

Having an alien movie post invasion where there’s an occupation and freedom fighters isn’t a bad idea. However, the execution was really off here. First and foremost, the movie’s story is quite messy.

The world building leaves a lot of unanswered questions and as the picture develops, the whole affair becomes more convoluted. Also, except for one sequence, the film is largely lacking in suspense. The story just meanders and there’s never a feeling of the plot thickening.

One of the reasons for this is how the characters were handled. The main character Gabriel is introduced, and he becomes the protagonist. Then, he disappears for nearly a half hour, and the film follows this group of rebels who we as the audience barely know.

What this group does in the movie is fairly compelling. There’s a part where they’re trying to set up and carry out an attack against the aliens. It’s very well crafted, yet it’s hard to be invested since these characters have such little backstory. As a result, the movie’s action set-piece is not as memorable and the main character is sapped of character building.

CaptiveStateInsert
John Goodman and Ashton Sanders in “Captive State.” Courtesy Participant Media.

It’s not to say the acting was poor. Goodman, Sanders and Farmiga are all fine here, and make their characters believable. Goodman is especially good in the movie. However, the characterization is so shallow.

Visually, the movie does have artistic flair. The setting is gritty, grimy and lived in. It feels like a depressed area and paints a picture as to why people are so desperate. Also, as previously stated, the moment with the rebels’ plot, which takes place at Soldier Field in Chicago, is put together nicely.

“Captive State’ had potential but it feels like a wasted opportunity. Despite a good cast and a knowledgeable director, the film is too messy and lacking in characterization. 2.0 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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