15th Mar2015

‘Hostages: The Complete Season One’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


If Nordic Noir hits like The Killing have taught us anything it’s that some of the best television doesn’t come from places like America or the United Kingdom but further afield.  When you take the time to look a little further there are difference styles out there and for a lot of viewers burnt out by the same old shows, something like the Israeli show Hostages (Bnei Aruba) comes along and shows just how to get a grip on an audience and not let go.

When Dr. Yael Danon (Ayelet Zurer) gets the chance to perform surgery on the Prime Minister (Shmil Ben Ari) it should just be another day for her.  When her home is invaded by Adam Rubin (Jonah Lotan) and his small group of masked thugs and her family held hostage, she soon finds she is given the job of killing her patient to save the people she loves.  In a battle to not only find a way to escape her given task but to also save her family, home truths and revelations are revealed and events are put into motion that change lives forever, and not just hers and her family.

A lot of people will have read the synopsis for Hostages and straight away think of the American version (which is based on this show).  I haven’t seen that version, but did check on how it ends, which told me enough to know there are many differences between the versions.  In the original Israeli form this is a tense fast paced thriller that doesn’t slow down enough for the audience to grow bored, in fact the episodes are quite short.  The story strands don’t get confused, and each character has a tightly wound cluster of weaknesses and secrets just ready to be poked at to keep them interesting.

When you think of the controversy a film like The Interview caused with the theme of assassination of a country leader, Hostages in both this form and the American does show that such a story can be done and handled well.  We are meant to see a person such as a Prime Minister as a moral foundation for our country, but in our cynical age we know this is not the case, and Hostages makes a good job of creating a man who fits the representation of morality but of course the more we learn the more we are made to ponder just what his role in the story is.  No spoilers of course, but as they say…nothing is as it seems and this is something that Hostages builds on very well.  There are plenty of twists in this version, and ones that are strong enough to make us question everything that we see, and that is where shows like this show their true potential.

What the show also raises though is the question of morality of the world it is set in.  The problem that is obvious is that there are many secrets each character has, and these change our view on just about everybody.  Based on these revelations though it is questionable just how quickly we are meant to forgive people that have done evil things and for the most part were bad people.  Should their motives suddenly make them a better person?  There is a confusion in this but if you argue that the world of Hostages is a corrupt world where everybody has their darker side, who are the bad guys anyway?

In its basic form Hostages is yet another tale about how seemingly perfect plans are destroyed by the one thing that can never be planned for, and that is the human element.  The show is about politics, not only in government form but also in the politics of the family and the gang who invade the home.  With a good cast (most notably Ayelet Zurer and Jonah Lotan) is one of those shows that screams out to be seen and proves that good television doesn’t just have to be looked for close to home, we have a wealth of good shows worldwide just waiting to be discovered, and Hostages proves that when we put some time into watching them, these shows can be some real hidden gems.

Hostages is released on DVD and Digital Download, via Arrow Films, on March 16th.

Review originally posted on PissedoffGeek

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