Hostage (film)

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This article is about the 2005 film. For other films named Hostage or The Hostage, see Hostage (disambiguation).
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 dates
  • 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 a novel 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 SWAT officer Jeff Talley is a hostage negotiator in Los Angeles. Talley is negotiating with a man who has taken his wife and son hostage after learning she has been cheating on him. Talley denies a SWAT commander's request to give snipers the green light to take out the suspect. There are three gunshots in the house. Talley runs through the barricaded door and finds the man and his wife dead. In the boy's room he finds the son, who passes away in Talley's arms. This leaves Talley emotionally scarred. He moves with his family to become police chief in Bristo Camino, a peaceful suburban hamlet in Ventura County, California.

A year after the incident, Talley finds himself in another hostage situation. Two teenagers, Dennis and his brother Kevin, and their mysterious accomplice Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck take hostage Walter Smith and his two children, a teenager Jennifer and a young child Tommy, in Smith's house after a failed robbery attempt. The first officer to respond, Carol Flores, is brutally shot twice by Mars just before Talley and a fellow officer arrive. Talley attempts to rescue the seriously injured officer, who dies in front of him. Traumatized and unwilling to put himself through yet another life-or-death situation, Talley hands authority over to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and leaves.

Smith has been laundering money for a mysterious 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 protect such incriminating evidence from discovery, the syndicate orders someone known only as the Watchman to kidnap Talley's wife and daughter. Talley is told to return to the hostage scene, regain authority, and stall for time until the organization can launch its own attack against Smith's house.

Dennis has his partners Mars and Kevin tie up the kids. Dennis pistol-whips Walter, knocking him out, then finds a large amount of cash. 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 the money. When the helicopter arrives, Dennis and Kevin bring the money to Talley in the courtyard and prepare to leave, but Mars refuses to leave without Jennifer. Talley tries to get the boys to leave Jennifer and walk away, but he says that the helicopter will only carry three additional people, and insists that Jennifer stay behind. The deal breaks down as the boys return to the house. Talley tells the chopper to stand down and he exits the courtyard.

Kevin is upset that his older brother picked Mars over him and confronts Dennis, demanding he make a decision: it's either him or Mars. Dennis picks the money and Kevin is even more upset so he grabs the bags full of money and empties them onto the floor, so Dennis punches him. Thomas escapes, grabs his father's gun and talks to Talley on Jennifer's cell phone.

Talley learns that Mars is a killer, who could turn on the hostages and his own accomplices at any moment. Mars does, in fact, kill Kevin, just when Kevin is about to release the kids to the police. Dennis comes to Kevin's side and assumes the cops killed him. Mars then shoots Dennis. The brothers die in each other's arms.

The syndicate sends fake FBI agents to recover the DVD and they storm the house. Talley is told not to go near the house or else his family would be killed. Mars is stabbed in the cheek by Jennifer. She and her brother flee. They lock themselves in the house's panic room. Talley hears the children screaming as they flee. Talley drives his patrol car into the house, breaking down the front door. Mars throws a Molotov cocktail at Talley, destroying his patrol car. Mars begins to kill the majority of the fake FBI agents using his pistol and multiple Molotov cocktails, but is shot in the side by the only surviving agent. The agent tracks down Talley and the children, demanding to be given the encrypted DVD. Talley gives him the DVD. Mars reappears, distracting the agent long enough to be killed by Talley.

Mars prepares to throw his last bomb to kill everyone in the room. He collapses to his knees, weakened by his wounds and blood loss. He makes eye contact with Jennifer, with whom he was apparently infatuated, then drops his bomb, becoming a human torch, and vanishing in a pillar of flame which engulfs the room.

Talley escapes with the kids by shooting the indoor glass waterfall which extinguishes the fire. He and Walter Smith then go to the rundown motel where Talley's wife and daughter are held hostage 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. This allows Talley to kill the other masked gunmen and rescue his 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.

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] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four.[7]

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.[8]

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. ^ Ebert, Roger (2005-03-11). Hostage.
  8. ^ "Hostage". 

External links[edit]