Three combustible forces come together in one fortress of a mansion in this bloodbath of a hostage drama. First is Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis), a former big-time hostage negotiator who was shattered by a tragic failure and gave it up to become a small-town police chief. Second is three strung-out teens who decide to steal an SUV but end up in the house when things get out of control, taking the owner and his two children hostage. Third is a group of ruthless professional bad guys who have no interest in the boys or the hostages but will do whatever it takes to retrieve a DVD with some very important files that is hidden inside the house, its location only known to a man who is unconscious.
Nice set-up. The contrast between the impulsive, hot-headed amateurs and the implacable, cold-blooded professionals as they interact with the hostages and the increasingly compromised Talley take this story above the usual guns and explosions multiplex fodder.
The film also has some good performances, especially Ben Foster as the most volatile of the boys. It has a sensational opening credit sequence. But the dialogue is stock UPN-drama and a promising premise disintigrates quickly into standard guns and explosions fare.
Parents should know that this is an exceptionally violent movie with extreme, intense, and graphic images and many kinds of weapons. Characters are in severe peril, including children and a young girl who is bound and threatened with rape. Many characters are wounded or killed. Characters drink and use drugs and use some very strong language. A strength of the movie is strong minority and female characters.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Talley responded the way he did to the tragic outcome of the first hostage situation in the film. How can a negotiator gain the confidence of someone who may be disturbed or irrational?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the first and third of Willis’ “Die Hard” movies and The Negotiator.