Hostage (2005 film)

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Hostage poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Florent Emilio Siri
Produced by
Written by Doug Richardson
Based on Hostage
by Robert Crais
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci
Edited by Richard Byard
Olivier Gajan
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
  • March 9, 2005 (2005-03-09) (Philippines)
  • March 11, 2005 (2005-03-11) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million[1]
Box office $77.9 million[2]

Hostage is a 2005 American action thriller drama film produced by and starring Bruce Willis and directed by Florent Emilio Siri. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Crais, and was adapted for the screen by Doug Richardson.

The film earned mixed to negative reviews and was not a financial success on its original release, earning only slightly more than its production costs.


Former L.A. SWAT officer Jeff Talley is a hostage negotiator in Los Angeles. One day, Talley negotiates with a man who has taken his wife and son hostage after learning his wife was cheating on him. Shortly after Talley denies a SWAT commander's request to give snipers the order to open fire, the despondent man kills his wife, son, and himself. Traumatized, Talley moves with his family and becomes police chief in Bristo Camino, a fictional suburban hamlet in nearby Ventura County.

A year later, Talley finds himself in another hostage situation. Two troubled teenaged brothers, Dennis and Kevin Kelly, and a sociopathic accomplice, Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck, all very well-armed, take Walter Smith and his two children, Jennifer and Tommy, hostage in the Smith home after a failed robbery attempt. Dennis had told his younger brother to wait in the car, not anticipating the siege to come, but Kevin refused.

A female police officer, Carol Flores, responds after Tommy turns on the silent alarm. She is shot twice by Mars just before Talley arrives. She dies in front of him. Traumatized and unwilling to put himself through another tragedy, Talley hands authority over to the county sheriff and leaves.

Smith had been laundering money for a mysterious right-wing militia and criminal syndicate through offshore shell corporations. He was preparing to turn over a batch of important encrypted files recorded on a DVD when he was taken hostage. To prevent the incriminating evidence from being discovered, the syndicate orders a ruthless operative, known as "the Watchman", to kidnap Talley's wife and daughter. Talley is instructed by "the Watchman", to return to the hostage scene, regain authority, and stall for time until the organization can launch its own attack against Smith's house. Otherwise, Talley's wife and daughter will be murdered.

Dennis forces Kevin and Mars to tie up the children, while he knocks out Smith and finds a small fortune in cash, money which the syndicate had paid Smith. In an attempt to end the standoff and secure the DVDs himself, Talley meets with Dennis and agrees to provide a helicopter in exchange for half of the money.

When the helicopter arrives, Dennis and Kevin bring the money to Talley and prepare to leave, but Mars refuses to leave without Jennifer, with whom he has become infatuated. Talley says the helicopter will only carry three passengers and insists Jennifer stay behind, but the deal breaks down and the boys and Jennifer return to the house. Talley learns that Mars is a sociopath who could turn on the hostages and his own accomplices at any moment. Mars does, in fact, kill Kevin, just as Kevin is about to release the children. Mars then kills Dennis.

The syndicate sends fake FBI agents to recover the DVD and they storm the house; Talley is instructed to not go near the house. Jennifer manages to stab Mars, but not fatally, and locks herself and Tommy in the panic room.

Hearing their screams, Talley breaches the house and is attacked by Mars, who then kills most of the fake agents using his pistol and multiple homemade Molotov cocktails. Mars is then shot in the side by the only surviving agent. The agent tracks down Talley and the children, and demands the encrypted DVD. When Talley asks that the children be allowed to leave, the fake agent shoots Talley, but it is not a fatal wound. After Talley gives him the DVD, Mars reappears, carrying two homemade Molotov cocktails, distracting the agent long enough to be killed by Talley. Mars then prepares to throw his last Molotov, but collapses to his knees, weakened by his injuries. He makes eye contact with Jennifer, then drops the Molotov and immolates himself.

Talley escapes with the children by shooting the indoor glass waterfall, which extinguishes the fire caused by Mars' first Molotov. He and a recovered Smith then go to a rundown inn where Talley's wife and daughter are being held captive by the Watchman and his crew.

Smith, feigning hatred for Talley, is freed in exchange for the family. While demanding that the Watchman kill Talley, Smith shoots the Watchman in the head. This allows Talley to kill the other gunmen in similar fashion and rescue his own family.



The film's plot is roughly the same as Crais's novel. The main difference is that the novel's complicated subplot involving powerful West Coast Mafia crime lord Sonny Benza was removed, with the film giving little explanation of Walter Smith's criminal associates. The film also makes the first group of hostage-takers somewhat younger in age than depicted in the novel. In addition, the criminal syndicate in the film were portrayed as domestic right-wing extremists rather than a Mafia.

Filming took place in the Malibu area (in western Los Angeles County). The exterior views of Smith's lavishly appointed house were filmed at a real house in the unincorporated Topanga Canyon area, between Malibu and Los Angeles; the interior scenes were done on sound stages in Hollywood.[3]

The character Mars, played by Ben Foster, was modeled after Bay Area rap artist Mars by Robert Crais after a friend Dennis Bsharah urged him to look into the horrorcore genre. In the movie adaptation, Foster strongly resembles the rapper.[4] Jonathan Tucker's name was later changed to Dennis.

The movie's opening scenes were filmed in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, just east of downtown.[3]

The fictional city of Bristo Camino was possibly intended to be a representation of Ojai or Moorpark. Bristo Bay is the name of Bristo Camino in the 2001 Robert Crais novel.[5]


Critical response [edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 35% based on 155 reviews.[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four.[8]

Box office[edit]

The film earned $34,639,939 at the box office in the United States and a total international gross of $77,944,725.[2]

Home media [edit]

Hostage was released on DVD June 21, 2005.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Movie Hostage". The Numbers. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Hostage". Box Office Mojo. 2005.
  3. ^ a b "Hostage-Film Locations". Seeing Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Ben Foster - HOSTAGE Interview". Tribute Entertainment Media Group. March 2005. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (20 August 2001). "Not-Half-Bad Punks And a World-Weary Cop". BOOK OF THE TIMES. The New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Hostage (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  7. ^ "CinemaScore".
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (2005-03-11). Hostage.
  9. ^ "Hostage".

External links[edit]