Captive Review

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After going on a killing spree while escaping from prison, Brian Nichols (Oyelowo) takes a single mother (Mara) hostage.


On March 11, 2005, just as he was about to be sent to prison for rape, Brian Nichols escaped from custody in Atlanta, killing four people, including the judge who sentenced him. Going on the run, he eventually holed up in the apartment of Ashleigh Smith, a single mother recovering from drug addiction. Captive purports to fill in the blanks of that night, as Oyelowo’s unstable, unpredictable Nichols slowly but surely comes to terms with the horrors he’s perpetrated.

The film is largely a two-hander between Oyelowo and Mara, and while their scenes never quite crackle with energy or the sense of menace that should come from the mere presence of a gun-waving sociopath, they’re solid enough. Oyelowo, in particular, is a powerful presence, saying not a word for the first fifteen minutes, and then deftly exploring the many sides of Nichols, who could be bombed out of his skull on meth one minute, and then calmly threatening passers-by with a deadly stare the next.

It’s disappointing, then, that everything around Mara and Oyelowo is so humdrum. In particular, director Jerry Jameson – the man behind Raise The Titanic – regrettably, and regularly, shifts the focus away from his two stars to check in on the manhunt to find Nichols, as driven detective Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) sends out an APB for every cop movie cliché in the area.

A rather humdrum treatment of what would have undoubtedly been a terrifying incident, it’s elevated – just about - by the performances of Mara and Oyelowo. Sadly, not very captivating.