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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon



Chief of Police Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) is a man filled with turmoil. A former S.W.A.T. officer and top hostage negotiator for the Los Angeles Police Department, Talley now toils away in a quite California town where crime is light and very infrequent. The change in locales was made necessary for Jeff in the aftermath of a hostage negotiation where things did not go accordingly leaving Jeff with more questions than answers.

As if this is not bad enough, Talley is having difficulties with his wife Jane (Serena Scott Thomas), and his daughter Amanda (Rumer Willis), who is not happy with their relocation to the quiet locale or the strain that is amongst her parents as it is clear that they still love each other very much.

The quiet town is disrupted when a robbery of a successful locale business man goes horribly wrong and ends up with a dead police officer and three hostages being held in a high tech, high security home.

Jeff responds to the incident and soon finds himself dealing with the three young men who are clearly in over their head and very dangerous due to the instability of the situation. Jeff decides to call in the Sheriff’s office as he believe his police force is not suited for this sort of situation and essentially decides to wash his hands of the situation and go home.

While driving home, Jeff is carjacked by a group of individuals who show Jeff that they have taken his wife and daughter hostage and instruct him not to let anyone in or out of the house where the hostage crisis is taking place. Jeff is also instructed to not deviate in any way from his instructions under pain of immediate death for his wife and daughter. His only communication with his new handlers will be via a cell phone, and he is to resume control of the negotiations.

It is learned that there is something in the house that the people holding Jeff’s family need and are willing to resort to very extreme measure to get it.

It is at this point that the very, very gripping and entertaining setup to the film begins to slide, as the second half of the film does not come close to matching the quality of the opening segments.

There are some very good cat and mouse moments as the men in the house start to argue amongst themselves, and interact with the family inside the house. The supporting performances are solid especially those of Jennifer (Michelle Horn), who plays the daughter held captive by the trio and the eerie performance of Ben Foster as the twisted Hostage taker Mars.

Sadly the film decides to turn to a series of brutal images and sequences rather than continue to develop the characters and work the story. The characters often embark on some inane courses of action and do things that not only contradict what we know about their characters but also fly into the lapse of logic as people in their situations would never do. I would love to expand on this by referencing a segment of the film but in the interest of not spoiling the film, I will explain it as when characters are told not to do something, why would they repeatedly do it, and then continue to do so without any consequences?

It is the continued lack of common sense and the and the very over the top and lazy finale to the film that sinks what could have and should have been a much better movie as the film is clearly sunk by the awful final 40 minutes of the show. Willis does a solid job with his role but the last act of the script let him down as even a star of his magnitude and talents cant make up for the films numerous shortcomings.

2.5 stars out of 5

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