Director: Jerry Jameson
Starring: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers
Release Date: 25th September 2015
Captive is based on a true story and a book by Ashley Smith called Unlikely Angel. In 2005, Ashley Smith was held captive by Brian Nichols, an escapee from Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta, GA. He was scheduled to appear in court for a rape charge. While on the run, after a murderous spree, he runs into Ashley, unfortunately for her. She is held captive in her home by Nichols and there the story goes.
I had heard a lot about the film, and even saw Ashley Smith interviewed on TV before its release. So basically, I already knew the ending. Should I give it away? Oh, okay – well, it kind of has a happy ending, well, for Ashley Smith. Brian Nichols does end up in prison, but maybe not totally (maybe not in the spiritual sense).
From what I understand, Ashley Smith never had contact with Brian Nichols after that day she was held. Therefore, it’s hard to know what was really going on in his mind then and now. Or at least, that wasn’t clear in the film. The turning point is when Ashley reads from a book she is reluctantly given called The Purpose Driven Life, written by Christian author Rick Warren. In the process of hearing the teachings from the book, they both seem to meet with redemption.
The best parts of this movie are the two main actors, David Oyelowo (who also serves as a producer on the film) and Kate Mara. They are both interesting to watch and believable with what they have to portray. Although the acting is great, the tension in the film might disappoint some. It seemed a bit tame for a crime thriller. Since I’m not a fan of that genre, the film’s plot is okay with me, but I’m sure some viewers seeking more grit would find fault.
Another fault with Captive would be the lack of dimension for Nichols’ character. While credit is given to the book that Ashley reads to him that eventually leads him to allow her to leave the house she was being held in, it’s still a little lackluster. For film purposes, there needs to be something more obvious for the viewer to justify such a change happening. A Christian can say yes, those words will slay a giant, but if the film hopes to evangelize to non-believers, there needs to be more tangible evidence. The film lacks this dimension. According to Ashley Smith’s book, the change did happen. I just wish the film would have made that change more evident. What might be lacking is Brian Nichols side of the story. If that aspect weren’t available, even within the Unlikely Angel book, then for dramatic impact, maybe a little creative license could have been used to make the film more palatable, and effective.
The real story is great, and so is the message that redemption is never too far away from anyone. Hopefully, those seeking solace from their demons will seek out the book highlighted in the film or other like sources (maybe the Bible). Even if the film steers one person to seek that out, it will have served its purpose.