Hostage Florent Emilio Siri

Hostage brims with competence; that's the Bruce Willis touch. The A-list celebrity both produces and stars in this reluctant hero story. But it's Florent Emilio Siri's direction that takes the script's well-trodden plot points and steers them away from cliché and toward something resembling a genre study. From the film's animated, flow-motion opening credit sequence (which serves both as a stylistic flourish and as an introduction to the story's first conflict) to its fiery finale, Siri keeps the camera moving and the lighting moody, and tends to pick an interesting frame over a dull one. All this is discussed at length in the director's informative commentary track. Siri is a dynamic speaker and clearly demonstrates how his choices as a director influence the tone and flow of the story. His insistence, however, that Hostage is somehow aligned with film noir conventions is less convincing. While the photography is indeed contrast-y, the plot lacks some core noir elements; the most glaring of which is the absence of a femme fatale (or any pivotal female characters for that matter). The plot involves a high-level Los Angeles hostage negotiator (Willis) who's come to doubt his abilities. Despite efforts to change career paths destiny calls and he finds himself at the helm of yet another tense hostage situation. Added to the mix are some shadowy gangster-types who are so high-tech they feel more like corrupt government officials than the gritty film noir thugs they're probably based on. According to the DVD's "making of" featurette, Willis hand-picked the 40-year-old French director and it's the best decision he makes on the project. Casting his own offspring (Rumer Willis) to play his daughter in the story, however, seems like a risky move. But the character is kept so far in the background that she doesn't get much of a chance to wreck (or add to) the film. The DVD also comes with deleted and extra scenes. (Alliance Atlantis)