Captive State

Perhaps I should have seen Five Feet Apart this past weekend, but I am a sucker for movies set in Chicago, which provided the backdrop for Captive State. Coming off the high of Captain Marvel last weekend, I guess I was in the mood for another action movie. So I saw Captive State.

I learned from watching Red Letter Media reviews, particularly of the prequels, that one thing a movie needs to do early on is to establish the basics: main characters, thrust of the plot, tension, etc. If you watched the preview to Captive State, you might assume that Gabriel Drummond (Ashton Sanders) is the main character. Yet the things that are going on in the film are so convoluted and out of his hands that there are long stretches where Gabriel is literally locked away and has nothing to do.

I would tell you what was going on in Captive State, but I am really not sure. This became evident after the first few minutes, which is always a bad sign, and I found myself asking questions that the movie was not answering. As best as I could figure, there is an alien invasion of the world and there are certain people that are mad about that fact. Why did the film focus on Chicago? I do not know. They tried to shoehorn some kind of rich versus poor subplot into it, but aside from a few shots of various government officials, the only characters you see most are the downtrodden, like Gabriel.

There is some kind of rebellion going on in Captive State, a rebellion against the aliens who, for some reason, convinced all the leaders of the world to allow them to be our overlords. I guess the gag is that the aliens told the rich and powerful that, in exchange for plundering our natural resources, they would protect their interests by taking them off planet when they have finally destroyed the earth. This sort of plot is so tired, though, and you never see the destructiveness of the aliens designs. They are underground. Just take the movie’s word for it.

The most symbolic moment of how disjointed and awful Captive State was came towards the end. There is a scene with William Mulligan (John Goodman), a cop and long time friend of the Drummond family, and Gabriel’s girlfriend, Rula (Madeline Brewer), in an elevator. These two characters had never laid eyes on each other up to this point in the film, and yet they exchange a knowing look that is full of some kind of meaning. This also comes near what I guess is the climax of the film, so it should have more weight. The problem was that I was so lost by that point that I can not tell you why it happened. It was just there.

I got very little out of Captive State, save for the time spent scratching my head over the incomprehensible goings-on. It was nice to see the willingness of the various family, friends, and co-conspirators to lay down their lives for each other, though there was far too much suicide going on with it.


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