On the Big Board
|Awful. I pity anyone trying to eat or drink while watching this. Or anyone who rents it at all, actually.
Stop us if you've heard this before -- Elisha Cuthbert stars as a young woman who is kidnapped, taken prisoner, and used as a pawn in some darkly nefarious scheme. No, it's not the next season of "24," or even the upcoming film "24: The Game." This movie is "Captivity," and this time, Ms. Cuthbert doesn't play the hip young daughter of a covert government agent, she's a fashion model. And the darkly nefarious scheme doesn't involve a terrorist threat against the United States, but the sociopathic play-making of an unseen serial killer. Daniel Gillies plays Cuthbert's chauffer. The serial killer captures both of them, throws them into a cellar, and leaves them there to ... seduce one another.
Roland Joffe's directs off a screenplay written by Larry Cohen, the scribe behind "Cellular" and "Phone Booth." Joffe hasn't helmed a major U.S. film since "Vatel" (2000), and "Captivity" is quite a departure from his earlier work. Twenty years ago, he earned great acclaim and several "best director" nominations, include an Oscar nomination for "The Killing Fields" and a nomination at Cannes for "The Mission." With a few other fine films under his belt, Joffe certainly has the gravitas and talent to direct this film, but his past departures from heavily dramatic, literary films has been spotty at best (see "Super Mario Brothers" and "Goodbye Lover"). Larry Cohen is hardly worth mentioning -- he's such a good screenwriter when it comes to thrillers, we don't have to mention anything but his name.
"Captivity" will be Laz Alonso's first big role in a major film following a supporting role in "Jarhead," a bit part in "Constantine," and considerable work in small films and television. We don't know what part he plays, but Alonso certainly has an impressive and interesting background. He was raised in a rough neighborhood of Washington, DC, graduated Howard University (nearby the world famous Ben's Chili Bowl), and spent some time in corporate life at Merrill Lynch before turning to acting.
Human interest aside, the most interesting story behind "Captivity" might be its production. The story is set in New York, but the movie is being filmed in Moscow as Mosfilm Studios. The Russian American Movie Company (RAMCO) is producing the film along with veteran Hollywood producer Mark Damon ("Das Boot," "Red Shoe Diaries," "Wild Orchid," and "Monster"). A group of Russian investors is financing the film entirely to the tune of $17 million, which will go quite a bit further in Russian than in the U.S. Valery Chumak, a Russian oligarch who made his fortune from running former state-owned mines in Siberia, is the major investor behind the film. Chumak has said he hopes "Captivity" will be the first of mainly such Russian-American jointly produced films, and Damon seems to be on board as well. Now we just need to come up with a cute name for the Russian version of "Bollywood." (Joel Corcoran/BOP)