Aliens invade earth once again in director Rupert Wyatt’s Captive State from Focus Features. The film opens up in 2017, extra-terrestrial beings have succeed in taking over Earth. As the Drummond family attempts to escape Chicago, the parents die, leaving their sons Gabriel and Rafe orphaned. Ten years later, the Drummond brothers have taken different paths in life. Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) is an average working man, looking for a better life, while Rafe (Johnathan Majors) is part of a rebellion against the invaders, known as “The Legislators”. Surprisingly, we don’t see much of them in the film.
Throughout the film, we meet various characters. Those who cooperate with “The Legislators,” include Commissioner (Kevin Dunn) and a cop with ties to the Drummond brothers (John Goodman). On the rebellion side, there is a news reporter (Alan Ruck) and a former Marine (James Ransone). The stunt casting includes rapper Machine Gun Kelly and Vera Farmiga. Machine Gun Kelly appears to have been casted to pull in the urban crowd, while Vera Farmiga has a predictable role which even a casual movie viewer could see coming a mile away.
As a fan of the cast and director Rupert Wyatt’s previous films, I walked into Captive State with an open mind. Sadly, Captive State may end up in my year’s ten worst of 2019. Captive State was marketed as an action-packed thrill ride, but that wasn’t the case. It’s apparent Rupert Wyatt and co-screenwriter Erica Beeney’s goal was to make a thinking person’s science fiction film. Their script failed to present any characters to root for or to establish a strong narrative. The screenplay had trouble focusing on the many characters in the film, with no real structure explaining.
In recent years, I’ve become a fan of Ashton Sanders and Johnathan Majors. Both young men do what they can with the material given. I was highly upset with the characterization of the Drummond brothers. Their talent deserves better. With her limited screen time, Vera Farmiga is one of the bright spots in the film. Farmiga is a classic example of what I call the law of casting: if a name star looks to have a nothing role for 90% of the movie, chances are he/she is the mysterious figure behind something.
Captive State ends with a predictable twist, leaving the door open for a possible sequel. I don’t see the film making a dent at the box office, so I predict there won’t be a sequel. As an avid film buff, I don’t need an effects-filled movie to have a good time. With Captive State, nothing seemed to work. In hindsight, the entire alien aspect of the film could have been replaced with a human totalitarian government as the villains and the movie would still be a mess. With its off-putting pace and lack of thrills, Captive State is the worst movie I’ve seen in 2019.
Final Grade D+