Captive State feels like a jail going movie experience
Aliens invade Earth once again in director Rupert Wyatt's Captive State from Focus Features. In the year 2017, extra-terrestrial beings succeed in taking over Earth. As the film opens up, we are introduced to the Drummond family while escaping Chicago. Sadly the mother and father lose their lives during the escape attempt, leaving their sons Gabriel and Rafe as orphans.
Ten years later, the Drummond brothers have taken different paths in life. Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) is an average working man looking for a better life. At the same time, Rafe (Johnathan Majors) is part of a rebellion against the invaders. The invaders are known as "The Legislators." Surprisingly, we don't see the creatures that much in the film. Rafe refers to "The Legislators" as the roaches, which could be to the traits they share with the insects. The rich seem to have an apparent working relationship with the roaches, and crime appears minimal.
Throughout the film, we are introduced to various characters who either corporate with "The Legislators," including a Commissioner (Kevin Dunn) and William (John Goodman), a cop who has ties to the Drummond brothers. On the opposite side, there is a rebellion, which includes a news reporter (Alan Ruck) and a former Marine (James Ransone). There's also a bit of stunt casting in the form of rapper Machine Gun Kelly and Vera Farmiga. Machine Gun Kelly appears to be in the cast to pull in the urban crowd. Simultaneously, Vera Farmiga has a predictable role that even a casual movie viewer will see coming a mile away.
As a fan of the cast and director Rupert Wyatt's previous work, I walked into Captive State with the middle the road aspirations. Sadly Captive State just may end up in my year's ten worst of 2019. The radio ads market Captive State as an action-packed thrill ride, and that just isn't the case. While I watched the film, it's apparent that director Rupert Wyatt and co-screenwriter Erica Beeney's goal was to make a thinking person's science fiction film. The duo's script fails to present any characters for the viewer to care about. The script also has trouble focusing on the many characters in the film. There are moments in the movie where characters pop in and out of the film, with no real narrative.
John Goodman can usually walk through a role with ease, which he does in Captive State. Still, I was distraught with the characterization of the Drummond brothers. In recent years I've become a fan of both Ashton Sanders and Johnathan Majors. Both young men do what they can with the material they're given; however, their talent deserves better. With her limited screen time, Vera Farmiga is one of the bright spots in the film. However, Farmiga is a classic example of what I call the law of casting... if a name star looks to have a nothing role for 90% of the run time, chances are he/she is the mysterious figure behind something.
Captive State ends with a predictable twist and leaves the door open for a possible sequel. However, I don't see the film making a dent at the box office. As an avid film buff, I don't always need an effects-filled movie to have a good time.
However, with Captive State, nothing seems to work. In hindsight, the film's entire alien aspect could be omitted and replaced with a human totalitarian government as the villains; the movie would still be a mess. With its off-putting pace and lack of thrills, Captive State is the worst movie I saw in 2019.
Final Grade D+