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Captive DVD + Digital HD Review

Captive (2015) movie poster Captive

Theatrical Release: September 18, 2015 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jerry Jameson / Writers: Brian Bird (screenplay); Ashley Smith, Stacy Mattingly (book Unlikely Angel)

Cast: David Oyelowo (Brian Nichols), Kate Mara (Ashley Smith), Leonor Varela (Sgt. Carmen Sandoval), Jessica Oyelowo (Meredith MacKenzie), Mimi Rogers (Kim Rogers), Michael K. Williams (Lt. John Chestnut), Elle Graham (Paige)

Buy Captive from Amazon.com: DVD + Digital HD Instant Video

Captive tells a tale of a prison break,
a murder spree, a home intrusion, and a hostage situation. The tagline claims it is "based on the inspiring true story", though, so this PG-13 thriller isn't designed to shock or outrage.

In March 2005, Brian Nichols (Selma's David Oyelowo) is about to be tried a second time on rape charges when he knocks out a prison guard, shoots dead a judge and a court reporter, and storms out of an Atlanta courthouse. Nichols' escape triggers an instant media frenzy and police search, but he avoids notice through the night, when he forces himself into the apartment of Ashley Smith (Kate Mara).

In "Captive", Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) is taken hostage by accused rapist Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo).

Smith has wrestled with meth addiction and has struggled to maintain custody of her young daughter. She is at risk in her home in the presence of the armed Nichols, who insists he never raped anyone and blames those he recently murdered for their fate. Nichols wants to get high and Smith shares some of her meth but won't snort any herself. He ties her up and removes her cell phone battery.

Both fugitive and captive are saved, according to the film and the book on which it's based by the real Smith and ghost writer Stacy Mattingly, by Smith reading excerpts to her abductor from Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, a devotional text Smith has resisted despite a fellow rehabber's recommendation. That's not a terribly cinematic thing to depict, but Captive holds your interest with close calls and near-incidents, from Smith's bathroom escape attempt to an almost deadly car stalling.

As Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) remains strong and resists using drugs, Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) falls apart.

Captive is not your typical Hollywood movie. Though it had the backing of a major studio (Paramount Pictures), the film had a low budget of just $2 million and was not destined to be a sure thing commercially. The types of films it most closely resembles are the PG-13 thrillers of Sony's Screen Gems label (like No Good Deed and The Perfect Guy),
movies that are designed to entertain broadly and turn profit without impressing critics or subverting expectations. But Captive, made for just a small fraction of those, intends to inspire and to leave viewers feeling better about the world in which they live.

It has modest success at those goals. This drama is more polished and less saccharine than more overtly Christian films like God's Not Dead and War Room. It seems like an odd project for the UK's Oyelowo to get involved with on the heels of his most prominent Hollywood role. But the actor, who also produces and lands a sizable supporting role for his wife of seventeen years, eventually does sink his teeth into the part and make you feel something with understatement. Captive admirably avoids being heavy-handed, but it still cannot entirely shake the lurid nature of its story and the simplistic nature of its message. At times, it does kind of resemble a television movie. Director Jerry Jameson is most experienced on the small screen, having helmed episodes of dozens of TV shows, including "Murder, She Wrote" and "Walker, Texas Ranger." Screenwriter Brian Bird is similarly seasoned there, having written and produced "Step by Step", "Touched by an Angel", and a number of faith-based TV movies.

Clearly not fitting Paramount's preferred tentpole model, Captive debuted in 806 theaters in mid-September and failed to crack the box office's top ten. It closed just three weeks later, having grossed only $2.5 million domestic and much less overseas, far short of profitability despite the meager budget. Following that underperformance, Paramount has not bothered with a Blu-ray edition, bringing Captive only to DVD and Digital HD on Tuesday.

Captive DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video


Even judged by the relaxed standards of 480p, Captive could look better on DVD. Approximating the 1.85:1 ratio of theatrical exhibition, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a bit drab, grainy, murky, and dark. The element is clean, as it should be and most of the shortcomings appear to be built into the low-budget, low-value production. Still, you'd wish a new movie looked better than this. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fine if rather unremarkable. A number of dubs and subtitles are supplied, along with a DVS track for the blind.

TV-seasoned director Jerry Jameson plans a shot in "Into the Darkness: Filming 'Captive.'" The real Ashley Smith bears some resemblance to her portrayer, but lacks a believably current hairstyle.


In the absence of a Blu-ray edition, Paramount has bent its no-extras-for-new-movie-DVDs policy to include two featurettes.

More significantly, "Into the Darkness: Filming Captive" (28:48) delves into both the true story and the effort to dramatize it. The real Ashley Smith adds her voice to the cast and filmmakers.
Among the topics covered are Oyelowo's fitness regime to bulk up for the part and shooting the film in both North Carolina and Mexico, the latter being where the apartment set was constructed.

The other shorter extra is "Faith and the Purpose Driven-Life" (5:50), which looks at the role of the real motivational text in the true story/film.

The DVD opens with an anti-tobacco spot. No trailers of any kind play afterwards or from the menu, which lacks a Previews listing.

Those menus are static and silent, adapting the poster art and other publicity stills.

An insert supplying your code and directions for accessing the Digital HD with UltraViolet included with your purchase is all that joins the plain gray disc inside the unslipcovered Eco-Box keepcase.

Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) sees police approaching, something he's already made peace with in "Captive."


Captive doesn't fully commit to being either a Hollywood thriller or an inspirational Christian drama. That leaves it somewhere in between, a semi-satisfying, low-budget film that never makes up for its lack of cinematicism

Buy Captive from Amazon.com: DVD + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 3, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Paramount Pictures, BN Films, Brightside Entertainment, 1019 Entertainment, Yoruba Saxon, and 2016 Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.