Grade: D-

Directed by Atom Egoyan
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mireille Enos, Rosario Dawson, Scott Speedman

The Captive has all of the right ingredients. Director Atom Egoyan is Oscar-nominated. Ryan Reynolds is in major need for a career resurrection and he offers some of his best work here. The cinematography by Paul Sarossy is bitter and cold. But, like the box of puzzle pieces in your grandmother's living room, there's a crucial ingredient missing. What should be a captivating drama is actually just a confusing, desperate mess.

Matthew and Tina are well-meaning parents. They work hard to provide a great life for their daughter, Cassandra. When Matthew leaves Cassandra in the truck while he goes inside their favorite food joint to grab a pie, Cassandra vanishes. Taking place in the bitter winter of North America, Matthew is left with zero clues, not even footprints in the snow. Of course, authorities question Matthew and work to eliminate him as a suspect. Years later Tina and Matthew experience a certain number of incidents that begin to unravel what really happened that day.

As Matthew, Reynolds chews each line as much as he can. While there is some genuinely great moments provided, it's scenes like the one when he can't take the authority's questions anymore and he breaks out into an physical outrage that shift this from a well-written mystery/drama to an over-dramatic piece of fluff. Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman, as the detectives put on the case, fail even worse. Speedman, especially, has his drama face turned to the highest notch.

Beautifully shot, The Captive should be a film in the mix of an Oscar buzz conversation. It looks just right. There's the right temperament of  anguish. Even the cold, snowy, wintery setting serves as a character of sorts. But, as with many films of pedigree, even a movie that looks good at first has to be able to live up to the expectations. Despite impressive shots, the story isn't strong enough and relies too much on a forgiving audience. We've seen missing children movies before. We've seen fathers suffer with guilt for what has happened to their child. We've seen evildoers wrestle and struggle with their own upbringings and guilt for the actions they've done. All of these things were present in last year's Prisoners, a much better film.

When we get glimpses at the older, teenage Cassandra, locked into a cinder block bedroom full of little girl remnants like pink, frilly bedding and stuffed animals, director Egoyan seemingly jumps ship, allowing his film to follow an eye-rolling trail begging you, as the audience, to give in. Audiences are smarter than this movie allows.

The Captive isn't the worst movie of the year and isn't a complete waste of time. It is, however, the most disappointing movie of the year, so far. Reynolds, especially, deserves better material. He needs to be careful before he fades into John Cusack oblivion.

Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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