The Captor

 

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An idiosyncratic retelling of a real-life crime hardly worthy of its fine cast.

 

Captor, The

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace

 

Films stated to be inspired by true events are two a penny, but Robert Budreau's The Captor (previously titled Stockholm) is unique in stating at the outset that it is based on an absurd but true story. That statement hints at an element of comedy in what might otherwise be a drama, and that indeed is what we get since as writer Budreau seeks to bring a light touch to a somewhat fictionalised version of what in 1973 was a headline story. A man entered a bank in Stockholm seemingly intent on a standard robbery but in reality aiming to take hostages and then do a deal with the authorities which would get a friend out of jail and  enable both of them to escape. Unusual as the situation was, what subsequently made it famous was the fact that the hostages became supportive of the criminals. Indeed, it was this event which led to the coining of the phrase 'Stockholm Syndrome' to refer to the bond that can arise between a kidnap victim and a captor.

 

Obviously, The Captor could have been offered as a straight drama but Budreau, who did well with the Chet Baker biopic Born to be Blue in 2015, has other aims in mind. His free version of events means that the real names have not been used and a tongue-in-cheek approach is involved. Thus a hostage, Bianca (Noomi Rapace), details a fish recipe for her husband to utilise when feeding their young children (actually they end up eating meatloaf instead) and the criminals (Ethan Hawke and Mark Strong) even perform a Bob Dylan song as a duet (later other songs of his will be heard by the man himself on the soundtrack). We get too the kind of dialogue that references other movies (Bullitt, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) in order to amuse film buffs.

 

Since Hawke fared so well in Born to be Blue, it is understandable that working again with Budreau might have appealed to him. However, it is surprising that such excellent players should have been drawn to The Captor because the comedy is too slight to amount to much but sufficiently present to prevent the story working as a drama. For all of Rapace's efforts, the film's portrayal of a romantic attraction between Hawke's captor and the married Bianca amounts to very little. What The Captor does do successfully is to paint a portrait of the ruthlessness of the authorities which, contrasting with the human feelings that grow between the three hostages and their captors, ensures that the audience sides with them. But it's not enough. Hawke, Rapace and Strong all give good performances which means that the film does at least give some pleasure. But just because all three are such fine actors one feels that this film is not worthy of them.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Bea Santos, Shanti Roney, Mark Rendall, Thorbjørn Harr, John Ralston, Ian Matthews, Anders Yates, Nora Prinzen-Klages.

 

Dir Robert Budreau, Pro Jonathan Bronfman, Robert Budreau and Fredrik Zander, Screenplay Robert Budreau, Ph Brendan Steacy, Pro Des Aidan Leroux, Ed Richard Comeau, Music Steve London, Costumes Lea Carlson.

 

Darius Films/Lumanity Productions/Blumhouse Productions/Productivity Media-Eagle Films.
92 mins. Canada/USA. 2018. Rel: 21 June 2019. Cert. 15.