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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Miramax - 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Genre: Crime/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollack, Ben Foster, Michelle Horn, Jonathan Tucker, Marshall Allman, Rumer Willis, Kim Coates
Directed by: Florent Siri
Music by: Alexander Desplat
Written by: Doug Richardson
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 23, 2011

"Every second counts"

Film Synopsis:

Every second counts for former hostage negotiator Jeff Talley when he finds himself in the thick of another family's drama with dire consequences. Talley has to keep the family alive and the criminals at bay in order to keep the father's secret.

My Take:

After a devastating incident during a negotiation, Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis), a big city hostage negotiator voluntarily trades trauma for quiet suburbia when he becomes Chief of Police in a small California community. When a random crime escalates into a deadly standoff, Talley finds himself thrust into a situation far more volatile and desperate than anything he could imagine. For Talley the rules of the game will require more than his rusty negotiating skills and a little luck. There is more at stake for him than anyone knows and with time running out his only option is to shift the odds in his favor.

I remember when Hostage was initially released, it didn't look to be all that exciting so I passed on it. As a Bruce Willis fan I probably should have given it a shot but the trailer did little to entice me. Six years later it arrived up on my doorstep for review from Lionsgate. I went in with fairly low expectations that weren't bolstered by the dramatically inauspicious opening sequence. Afterward the story picks up and the plot thickens. It turned out to be a taut little crime thriller with a decently aligned story that has a few well placed twists and melodrama/suspense to keep it interesting. The script takes a few liberties but they never descend to the point of absurdity. The characters are clearly drawn which leaves little question with respect to their place and purpose but that works well within the narrative's construct. On one hand Bruce Willis' Jeff Talley finds himself struggling with feelings of remorse/guilt that lead to problems at home with his wife and daughter. On the other he is suddenly faced with a situation that forces him to not only relive his past but thrusts him onto an emotional rollercoaster of fear and desperation that brings about a demonstrative realization. This is the crux of the story but the remaining elements work in tandem with it as we get a back and forth perspective between Tally and the victims he must save, for reasons that for him, rest on an emotional parallel. At first glance this would seem to be a straight forward crime thriller however there is a satisfying dramatic element that is supported by a strong performance from Bruce Willis. Ben Foster's eerie portrayal of the creepy/maniacal Mars is as good as I have seen him. Jimmy Bennett is a charismatic child actor that seems to easily connect with the audience. He gives a solid performance here which adds to the proceedings. The ending is a bit of a stretch but there is enough depth to the film to overlook it. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Hostage. It turned out to be an engaging thriller that is highlighted by a well constructed script and a capable lead performance by star Bruce Willis.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong graphic violence, language and some drug use.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 86

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Hostage comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.

This isn't a particularly bright film but it manages to strike a good balance between the use of dark and light elements. Filtering is applied to render its varying visual aesthetics as dictated by the filmmakers. Certain scenes are almost monochromatic while others appear to use natural lighting and deeper color emphasis. This seems to mate well thematically and I found the visual contrast interesting. In most regards both light and dark sequences have above average depth with appreciable shadow delineation. White levels are tamped down and blacks are gradational but slightly elevated. Dynamic range is only mildly affected as brighter elements tend to have punchy highlights with visible detail. Resolution occasionally fluctuates but in most instances detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective that results in pleasing, multi-dimensional high definition video quality.

The is a deceptively good DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that features crystal clear dialogue, powerful dynamics and a subtle, yet rewarding surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension and discrete directional sounds that created a realistic and occasionally immersive listening environment. This worked hand in hand with film's music, and source material, to build tension and help drive the story. Be sure to turn this one up when the action kicks in.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Florent Siri

  • Taking Hostage behind the scenes - 12 minute featurette

  • 6 deleted scenes with optional director commentary

  • 2 extended scenes with optional director commentary

Final Thoughts:

Hostage is an entertaining crime thriller that features a respectable plot, well drawn characters and a solid lead performance from star Bruce Willis. It makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate featuring good high definition video quality, excellent lossless surround sound and a middling offering of bonus supplements that are highlighted by a director's commentary and run of the mill making of featurette. I am pleased that it was worth my time and recommend that you check it out as well.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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