Saturday, March 12, 2005


It's been some time since I last saw a movie with creative opening credits. This one is unique, with comic book like panels and graphics, which looks suspiciously like Sin City, capturing different aspects of first responders in a hostage crisis, before dissolving into real life and putting everything into perspective.

And we see Bruce Willis with hair! Lots of it! Well, at least for the opening tense and engaging scene. He seems to have monopolized the role of the world weary cop, this time, a renowned hostage crisis negotiator, until the mission goes awry and he literally has blood on his hands.

We fast forward to today, and we see the Willis we're all too familiar with - bald, and into a career as a small town police chief. Before you can say "bring on the action!", 3 teenage delinquents hold a man and his 2 children hostage in their swanky ultra modern home.

To add to the mix, there's something shady going on behind the man held hostage, and given Willis' reputation as an ex-hotshot negotiator, he's now blackmailed by unidentified masked men holding his own family hostage, who want a DVD from the house with probably important information (don't ask). So Willis has to use his smarts, play both sides, putting his skills into practice and wiggle out of both situations - get the hostages safe, deliver what the masked men wants, and in turn, guarantee safe passage for his own family. Naturally when you play both sides, those on the side of the law always question your motives, as you deviate from the book.

What intrigues me is the negotiation process - between Willis and the hostage taking delinquents, and between Willis and the professional masked men - which takes centerstage in any hostage drama. I've been reading up a bit on crisis negotiation, and some aspects of the movie does seem to apply the principles of what I have read, which is cool.

It's a thrill from start to end, and this film delivers, with 2 finales tying up the 2 major plots. While at times predictable, the superb delivery by the cast does not bore you, though some might think that having "unidentified" masked men seems a little too convenient, as their motives go unexplained.

This is based on a novel, so I might just check out the book. And if Willis' character is called John McClane, this could well be a worthy addition to the Die Hard franchise.

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