The Captive Review

poster from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

I had two choices this week. The Captive, which looked like Prisoners starring Ryan Reynolds, and Boyhood, which looked like you could sum up the story with ‘a boy grows up – the end.’ Neither drew me. What should I see? The universe chose The Captive on my behalf. Boyhood didn’t have a showing after lunch.


A father and a police anti child exploitation unit search for a kidnapped girl eight years after the fact when it becomes clear the kidnapper is taunting them.

I expected The Captive to be just like Prisoners, but it wasn’t, really. There’s no question of what happened to the daughter. She and her kidnapper are perspective characters. Instead, we wonder whether the police and/or her parents will ever find out what happens to her. There are a few questions left unanswered, but I liked it.


The Captive drops you right in the deep end and leaves you wondering: who are all these people? What the hell is going on? After a few minutes it becomes clear that Tina (Mireille Enos) the sketchy, depressed, angry cleaning lady is the mother of a missing girl and Nicole (Rosario Dawson), the woman you think is a therapist helping Tina get over blaming her husband, is actually the police detective who’s looking for the kid.

Mireille Enos from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

I’d feel sorry for Tina if she wasn’t so viciously cruel to her also-grieving husband.

Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) the bearded guy with the truck full of toys who cruises the highways picking up teenage hitchhikers is not a perv but the father of the missing girl, who’s been looking for her ever since. He has surprisingly not divorced his wife for constantly blaming him, probably because he also blames himself. He let his daughter wait in the truck while he went to buy pie.

truck stop from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

There’s a lesson here. Pie is worse for you than you realize.

Jeffery (Scott Speedman) the handsome guy who’s badgering Bruce Greenwood and his pretend wife about whether they saw Nicole after their charity dinner is not a stalker boyfriend but a fellow cop. Finally, the little girl playing the piano in the locked room full of spy cameras is Cass (Alexia Fast) the missing girl. And Mika (Kevin Durand) that pervy guy who looks like a stereotype of a pedophile? He actually is a pedophile.

Kevin Durand from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

He might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says ‘I (heart) little girls.

Mika is either the head of or a cog in an internet child exploitation ring that for some reason involves Cass dictating stories into a microphone instead of being abused, probably because nobody wants to see that sh** in a movie.

Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

POLICE: Mr. Egoyan? You want to come with us, sir?

Mika controls Cass by threatening her parents, whom she can watch on surveillance video because Mika’s people are monitoring them. Mika messes with Cass’s mom and dad just to see their pain, which makes them suspicious and starts everyone looking for Cass again. Unfortunately, they don’t work together because Jeffery has some sort of problem with Matthew.

Alexia Fast from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

Um, how long do you think you can leave my stuff in hotel rooms before my mom clues in?

So there are no aspects of the story that are hidden from us. We see all the cards. We’re watching the movie to find out whether mom, dad, and the police figure out who’s got Cass and whether they can get her back. Sort of like an episode of Criminal Minds. Except unlike an episode of Criminal Minds, scenes play out of order, leading to confusing situations like Jeffery looking for Nicole before she goes missing.

Police talk to parents from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

Hey wait, did you just go unmissing or…?

And while we (thankfully) do eventually get the answer to the big question, I still felt like there were a lot of threads left handing. There’s a really sweet subplot about Cass’s childhood figure skating partner Albert (Aiden Shipley) and his promise never to skate with anyone else that doesn’t really go anywhere. They never really say what Jeffery’s problem was, and I was left wondering whether the two relationships in the movie outlive the plot.

Mireille Enos and Ryan Reynolds from the E1 Entertainment film The Captive

Boy I sure am glad we got over the fact that you hate my guts!

So while The Captive was better than I expected, especially for a Canadian movie, it still doesn’t quite hit the spot. Watch it if you like Criminal Minds or Law and Order SVU, but don’t expect everything to be wrapped up in a neat bow like you’re used to.

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