Well, it’s about God-damned time. Okay, so I’ve got a bit of a story on this one. Technically, this movie was made, and more or less finished, as far back as 2017. I know this because I got to see an early screening of it. To my understanding, it was supposed to be released in April 2018, which meant it was probably going to compete with AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, so the release date was pushed… well, to March 2019. Gotta say, I’m curious to see how this movie holds up and to see if I can notice any changes. Probably not as I barely remember what this movie was like when I saw it, so maybe a fresh outlook is in order.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Ashton Sanders (MOONLIGHT , STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON ), John Goodman (VALERIAN  and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE ), and Jonathan Majors (HOSTILES ).
In support, we have Vera Farmiga (THE COMMUTER , and the upcoming GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS ), Kevin Dunn (KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES ), Machine Gun Kelly (NERVE ), and Madeline Brewer (7 episodes of TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK [2013 – ongoing]).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Rupert Wyatt, known for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011). Wyatt’s partner-in-pen is Erica Beeney, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Rob Simonsen, known for FRONT RUNNER (2018), GIFTED (2017), NERVE (2016), and BURNT (2015). The cinematographer is Alex Disenhof, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming CODE 8 (2019). Finally, the editor is Andew Groves, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of.
This is my honest opinion of: CAPTIVE STATE
In 2019, the world faced an invasion from an alien race called the Legislature. They overwhelmed the Earth and the only way to stop them was to surrender, to which was agreed.
Set in 2028, the world tries to live under the rule of the aliens. Some work for them, both as politicians on their behalf and as law enforcement. Any attempt to rise up against the Legislature has been discouraged since the Phoenix was neutralized two years ago at Wicker Park, a group of insurgents who want to be free of the aliens. However, it is soon discovered by William Mulligan (John Goodman), that the Phoenix is still around and communicating through very elaborate means. Caught in the middle is Gabriel (Ashton Sanders), the younger brother of the leader of Phoenix, Rafael (Jonathan Majors), and soon must decide which side of the upcoming conflict he wants to be on.
Man, I have no idea why it took two years for this movie to come out, but I feel like nothing was done to improve on the final product. The sad fact is that this movie has good ideas, but lousy executions on all fronts, making it boring and not well-made.
I see what this movie is. It’s not about a war between humans and aliens. There was never going to be big epic set pieces with big explosions, or anything of that nature. This is about the steps taken to igniting the war. Essentially, I believe this movie would be easier to swallow if you accepted it as a spy thriller. Er, it doesn’t make it a better film, per se, but it makes a little more sense in terms of what genre you’re watching. In a way, that’s actually what the movie does best. When you see the Phoenix organization at work, it is actually pretty fun to see all the different ways they communicate with those in their group. Ads in the paper, tied up dogs, all extremely subtle and unassuming means of communicating. I can see more than a few people complaining about how it’s all a little too long-winded and intricate, but given the intended state of the world we’re introduced to and how integrated the Legislature are in human society, I can see why such extremes were taken. However, this is the only thing the movie does right. Before and after this, it’s all downhill.
One huge problem with the story is just how unclear this world really works. I mean… really think about it. The Legislature invade, they overpower the world, we surrender to their rule, and now the world is under their control. According the movie (if I remember correctly), crime and poverty is at an all-time low and things are technically improved under their leadership, despite its human employees that hunt down those that break the law. Aside from a strict set of laws, which aren’t clearly defined, other than “do your job and don’t go beyond the borders of the city,” this world doesn’t seem that bad. It’s just bad because we’re shown slummy neighborhoods and sad looking people. But how are they suffering? A lack of free will and choice? Well, considering that New Zealand just suffered from the Christchurch mosque shootings, I’d say giving us free will to do terrible shit like this to each other versus submitting to alien rule and keeping us in order, you might as well consider me Tiffany from INDEPENDENCE DAY.
The point is, you can’t throw a blanket statement, “aliens are in control” and expect the audience to suddenly have a grasp of what’s at stake and why we need to care about the characters and their goals. As far as I’m concerned, the good guys are secretly the bad guys. I wouldn’t know because I don’t know what the problem is and I don’t know what the stakes are. Okay, sure, natural resources are being farmed, but… for what? Every answer just has more questions.
Speaking of the characters, we haven’t a single good one to follow. Gabriel could be written out of the story entirely as he barely contributes anything to the overall narrative. There’s only two characters that would deserve development, and that’s William and Raf. Here’s the problem, William is established as one of those clichéd obsessed cops that you see in bad cop movies. However, he barely spends any of the movie actually tracking down any members of the Phoenix organization, but rather getting his freak on with prostitute-Vera Farmiga that he never gets on (how the hell do you fail at that with prostitute-Vera Farmiga???) and babysitting Gabriel because of vague promises made to his dad. After that, he just sort of does asshole things because… we’re supposed to accept him as an asshole, even though it kind of looks like he’s just doing his job. We don’t know anything more about him as a regular dude for us to find him engaging. As for Raf, his portion of the story, where all the secret communicating things are happening, is the best portion of the story, but not because of him specifically. In fact, he’s as much a bit character as the other characters that surround him. Again, we know nothing about any of them other than their occupations. One’s a mechanic, another works for the newspaper, another is an employee at a fetish club, but none of them have personalities. They’re just… there to exist.
As a result of all of these short-comings, the movie is an absolute bore.
On a final note, I would normally simply say this movie is at best, poorly made, or at worst, bad. But there’s one thing that puts it over the edge for me and that’s one story behind the scenes. Actor/rapper Machine Gun Kelly sustained a hairline fracture from being punched by an extra playing a cop too excessively. When he complained to a crew member, whose name I can’t find, told MGK to “suck it up.” That’s… beyond messed up. While I may question why MGK didn’t say anything to director Rupert Wyatt and why this isn’t exactly bigger news, I still maintain that this is an awful way to treat… anyone.
Overall, the movie is boring. With almost no story or characters to latch on to, there’s nothing that truly makes this flick watchable. Even the positive things have some negativity laced in them. But if that wasn’t bad enough, poor treatment toward Machine Gun Kelly nets this movie a hard pass and avoid at all costs. While I wish the rest of the cast good fortune in the future, as well as the filmmakers as a whole, I hope that one crew member is unclogging toilets at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.
My honest rating for CAPTIVE STATE: 1/5
This week’s reviews:
- THE AFTERMATH
- THE MUSTANG
- FIVE FEET APART
- WONDER PARK
- THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT
- NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE
- NO MANCHES FRIDA 2: PARAÍSO DESTRUIDO
- PLAIRE, AIMER ET COURIR VITE / SORRY ANGEL
- FAITH, HOPE & LOVE
Next week’s reviews: