04th Jul2019

‘The Captor’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Bea Santos, Mark Rendall, Ian Matthews, John Ralston, Shanti Roney, Christopher Wagelin, Thorbjørn Harr | Written and Directed by Robert Budreau


1973, Stockholm, Sweden: Self-styled outlaw Lars Nystrom, high on pills, wearing a wig, shades and a cowboy hat, walks into a bank, pulls out a machine gun and fires into the ceiling, cranks up his portable radio, then declares ‘the party has begun’. He takes two bank workers hostage and demands his friend Gunnar is released from prison, $1million, and a getaway car. As negotiations with the police reach a deadlock, one of the hostages, married mother Bianca, initially terrified by being held captive by the erratic Lars, becomes sympathetic, then strangely attracted to him. As the net tightens, and Lars is forced to take desperate measures, Bianca finds herself siding with criminal over cops.

The Captor, aka Stockholm, is directed by Robert Budreau and is supposedly based on the true story of a 1973 bank heist that occurred in Stockholm that sensationally brought the medical term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ into the public consciousness. Starring Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace as bank robber and hostage, respectively, Budreau’s film does little to highlight the mental fatigue of such a monumental event, while also providing little drama in the story of this underwhelming bank heist.

The Captor is unfortunately tonally inconsistent and bland throughout. The film falls apart holding zero tension or gravitas for the situation that is developing. The crux of the film follows the absurdly and outlandish bank heist but while prominently exploring this element the film needs to craft a captivating tension, in the likes of Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon or the enigmatic nature of Spike Lee’s Inside Man, The Captor has neither of these crucial elements to craft an engaging picture. The main draw of the film is substantially underwhelming, and whatever is left to explore the mental state of Noomi Rapace’s Bianca Lind is all but poor and insufficient.

Rapace showcases some much-needed dramatic range after a multitude of low-brow action thrillers that have prominently dropped on Netflix and Redbox platforms rather than cinematic releases. The long-muted Amy Winehouse biopic seems dead in the water but here we see Rapace – thankfully – play against her sudden typecasting of action heroines and gets stuck into a character study situated in a bizarre situation that allows the actress artistic freedom. Rapace isn’t given enough material or direction to work within a drastically undercut screenplay from writer-director Robert Budreau and therefore doesn’t provide anything more than a one-note simplistic and sufficient performance.

Ethan Hawke does his best Nic Cage impression for ninety minutes as Lars Nystrom and dives deep into a performance that is cut from the same cloth that could be easily mistaken from David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. It’s eccentric, palpable and wildly over the top, and while it’s suitable crafting of a manic character, it does, in fact, feel slightly out of place and overly dramatic for the tonal impact of what the film wants to provide. A sentiment that could easily be labelled on the film as a whole.

The Captor is available digitally now, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.


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