Tag Archives: Bruce Greenwood

The Captive (2014)


All in all, “The Captive” is a pretty lame movie. It incorporates a ‘ripped from the headlines’ story with an admittedly good performance from Ryan Reynolds (who’s obviously trying to shed his ‘pretty boy’ image, with some success, but that doesn’t make this movie good,) but ultimately proves to be an unthrilling film that fails to be realistic or compelling.

Most of the fault seems to be with Kevin Durand, who plays a mustachioed pedo freak which such cartoonish abandon that one can only sigh and weep for the direction this movie takes. Durand’s Mika (but I’ll call him pedostache, mm-kay?) kidnaps young Cass (played by Peyton Kennedy as a child and Alexia Fast as a teen) from under poor Reynolds’ nose and does unspeakable things to her.

Reynolds, her dad, is blamed by his grieving wife (Mirielle Enos) for leaving Cass in the car for just a minute as he went into the pie shop to get dessert for his the three of them. Luckily, police officers specializing in child abduction and sexual abuse Nicole  (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) are on the case.

It’s every parents worst nightmare, and great fodder for a thrilling, terrifying crime story, but something is missing. And it’s a shame that, with Reynolds performing so admirably, the central villains performance often lowers the film to ridiculousness.

Mika is an ever-so-slightly effeminate deviant with a pencil-thin pedostache, bleached buck teeth, a habit of crossing and uncrossing his legs constantly, and a penchant for opera, in other words, a live-action cartoon character who is impossible to take seriously in a film that is otherwise for all intents and purposes, earnest.

What the film doesn’t realize is that pedophiles look like regular people. They look like the kindly old man halfway down the block, the big bearish uncle who used to placate you with sweets and hug you a little too tightly. To portray an offender as a John Waters-esque creep is to do a disservice to reality. And Durand’s overly zesty performance doesn’t help.

Let me tell you about the ending. Obviously, **spoilers. Read at your own risk. Cass, who looks thirteen like Dame Maggie Smith looks twenty-five, is freed, and the baddie is smote. She returns to her regular life almost immediately, and the film closes on her ice-skating with a happy grin on her face. After years of Tina (Enos) psychologically abusing Matthew (Reynolds) and blaming him for their daughter’s’ disappearance, it seems like the duo will automatically get back together.

Aw, how Kodak. Bring out the camera, folks! Smile! Except all I can say is, really?!! Not only does the film completely fail to mention that Cass will be scarred for life and saying she will have trouble adjusting is a massive understatement, the revelation of Matthew and Tina hooking up at the end seems completely false. Their daughter is back, suddenly everything is swell! Never mind that the whole family has been completely through the ringer and will probably be deeply damaged for the rest of their lives. **end of spoilers

It would have been interesting to see Reynolds play the bad guy like he (sorta) did in “The Voices” (the “Voices” anti-hero wasn’t a pedo though, just a nice old fashioned serial killer.) To see Ryan Reynolds play a perv would be so totally different that I would kind of have to applaud it. As least “The Voices” felt like a unique experience. “The Captive” feels like a nighttime crime show that you half-watch while occupying yourself elsewhere. A really bad crime show. Ryan Reynolds, I don’t think this movie is the best way to further your career.  Although, I must admit, playing alongside Durand did make you look damn good.


Double Jeopardy (1999)


I remember “Double Jeopardy” as one of the first R-Rated films my parents let me see. I was allowed to watch it in its entirety save for the brief sex scene between Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood. Revisiting it years later, I must admit it seems unfair to me that the critics hated on it so much -although the set-up and payoff are fairly standard for Hollywood fare, the plot is entertainingly fast-paced and fun. It’s no masterpiece, I’ll give you that much, but nevertheless “Double Jeopardy” is a perfectly effective film and accomplishes much of what it sets out to do. Its ambitions are modest, which seems to work in its favor.

Libby (Ashley Judd) appears to have it all- an adorable son (Benjamin Weir,) a lovely house, a devoted best friend (Annabeth Gish,) and a husband (Bruce Greenwood) who’s loaded. But her outwardly idyllic life frays at the edges when her husband frames her for his murder and disappears, and Libby is sent to prison. Befriended by two rough-hewn female convicts (Roma Maffia and Devenia McFaddem,) Libby refuses to let the news of her husband’s betrayal break her, and instead focuses on a legal factoid on of the convicts clued her in on- no one who has allegedly committed an offense can be convicted of the same crime twice.

Determined to get her son back and maybe exact some ass-kicking revenge against her husband on the way, Libby gets out on parole a changed woman, and vows to find the secret location of her good-for-nothing spouse. Her grumpy parole officer, Travis (Tommy Lee Jones, in standard grouch mode) has other ideas. So there’s your conflict, laid out for you as plain as day. This movie’s strength isn’t in its complexity, but in the slick twists and turns scattered like bread crumbs along the way.

Ashley Judd did a fine job- not award material, but believable enough, and Tommy Lee Jones is okay playing a role very typical of him. Bruce Greenwood’s Nick is a slippery little fucker, and I bought his portrayal of a manipulative psychopath (though I had trouble believing that Libby saw no hint of his true self in the years of their marriage before he faked his death and screwed up her life- really Libby?!)  The movie has a feminist vibe- Judd really does kick ass, but the feminism at play is cool and empowering rather than the annoying hysteria of many bra-burning progressives.

One flaw I do see in the films’ script is that the emotional and moral center of the film was a little too obvious and I was never really moved by the script. I really had trouble with the fact that *MASSIVE SPOILER* Libby could just kill her husband and the customary happy ending would be ensured, considering that Nick raised Libby’s son and it seems there would be some emotional ramifications for the kid since his mom offed his dad. I guess she’ll save it for his 20th birthday. *END OF MASSIVE SPOILER*

“Double Jeopardy” is not a masterpiece or anything (watch “Blue Ruin” for a truly great picture on the consequences of revenge) but it is good entertainment and an effective popcorn movie for a film night between family or friends. If you want total realism and psychological depth look elsewhere. For a fun thriller that doesn’t make you throw things at the screen too much, look no further.

Double Jeopardy

I, Robot (2004)


‘Inspired’ by a short story collection by science fiction author Isaac Asimov, “I, Robot” is a fun action movie that owes a lot to Will Smith’s charismatic star power. Det. Del Spooner, an overly paranoid cop with a major case of survivor’s guilt, hates and distrusts all the robots who have become standard servants of man in the near future. So when Del has reason to believe that ‘Sonny’ (voiced by Alan Tudyk,) a highly intelligent and inquisitive robot (most robots are drones that exist only to serve) murdered apparent suicide victim and creator of robots Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell,) he’s all over the case.

Alfred Lanning created a set of rules within every robot for the safety of humanity, but it seems that Sonny, whether a killer or not, has the ability to bend or break the laws of robotics. Smart-ass Spooner teams up with an uptight robotics employee, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan,) to uncover the plot behind Alfred’s death. Meanwhile Spooner finds himself being attacked by groups of robots, but as an distrusting full-fledged technophobe with a long history of hatred towards our cyborg friends, who will believe him?

“I, Robot” is an entertaining and action-packed adventure that occasionally hints at something more, although it is no doubt not as thought-provoking and pensive as the book on which it was based. People seem to pan the movie for that reason. ‘Why can’t it be more like the book?’ seems to be the common criticism. As someone who hasn’t read the book, I say that “I, Robot” does a perfectly good job presenting interesting ideas, but the result is more mainstream than philosophical.

Spooner isn’t really that far a cry from the other sarcastic action-heroes Will Smith has played, but the upside to this is that the role fits Smith like a glove. Spooner is cocky, very flawed guy with a pretty bad attitude, but you don’t really dislike him. For one thing, he makes you laugh, and for another when you find out his backstory you’ll feel for him. The moments between him and his grandmother Gigi (Adrian Ricard,) who loves him fiercely but absolutely doesn’t take any shit from him, are also poignant.

The special FX are effective, with another strong point being the voice and presentation of Sonny. Things have come a long way since “Star Wars” when R2-D2 was a midget in a blinking metal costume. Sonny is just human enough to be sympathetic while still being slightly unnerving. Props to bringing Susan and Spooner from mutual dislike to respect and possibly, romantic interest without any irritating flirtatious banter or unnecessary sex scenes.

“I, Robot” is a popcorn movie for sure, but it’s a fun, exciting popcorn movie that doesn’t insult your intelligence too much. Quite simply, if you like Will Smith’s “Men In Black” type character with his one-liners and sarcasm, you’ll like this movie. If you like good special effects and a decent story that keeps you guessing, you’ll also like it. People who are looking for excess depth or a totally creditable plot look elsewhere.