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  Captor, The I'm No Psychologist, But...
Year: 2018
Director: Robert Budreau
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Bea Santos, Mark Rendall, Ian Matthews, John Ralston, Shanti Roney, Christopher Wagelin, Thorbjørn Harr, Gustaf Hammarsten, Vladimir Jon Cubrt, Nonnie Griffin, Anders Yates, Linzee Barclay
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kaj Hansson (Ethan Hawke) is getting ready for his big day, and to do so he brushes his Zapata moustache, puts on a long, black wig and an American-look leather jacket topped ensemble topped off with a cowboy hat, and heads off into Stockholm from his yacht. He also has a machine gun and a radio in a bag, and once he reaches the nearest bank, he enters, pulls out the weapon and fires off a few shots, announcing that this is now a robbery. When he notices one of the staff, Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), has set off the alarm to alert the police, he is actually very pleased, as this will save him contacting them himself. Get the Chief of Police (Christopher Heyerdahl) on the phone, he says.

What I haven't mentioned is the era this takes place in: the early nineteen-seventies, as this was one of director Robert Budreau's fanciful adaptations of historical events after his factually dubious Chet Baker biopic, which also starred Hawke (Budreau obviously knew a good thing when he saw it). As the original title indicated - it was initially called Stockholm - this was based around the robbery that really did happen a few decades before and gave rise to a pop psychology buzz phrase, "Stockholm Syndrome", that phenomenon where a hostage or collection of hostages take the side of their kidnappers instead of the police trying to rescue them, or that's the common conception.

What happened in the source case, known as the Norrmalmstorg robbery, is not wholly clear, despite it being well-covered by Swedish television, but what was apparent in the aftermath was the hostages refused to testify against the two criminals, apparently because one of them was just too darn handsome. It sounds absurd, and indeed this film is captioned "Based on an absurd true story", but the trouble here was there was another hostage crisis movie that was even more ridiculous from the actual seventies, and that was Dog Day Afternoon, a picture you cannot help but compare this effort to and judge it wanting by dint of the way it used some familiar points to spin its yarn.

There was not much too original here, which would have been fine because the interest in an origin tale for all those heist gone wrong movies could have set the record straight about the truth of where the clichés hailed from, but the changes Budrea made to the facts, mostly to add a little more sex and violence, were the sort of thing that any uninspired example of the deluge of heist flicks out of the nineties could have handled with an equally casual lack of novelty. Really he had taken a well-told story that had been variously embellished down the decades and simply applied what had become hackneyed to the genuine occurrences as we could discern them (from looking them up on Wikipedia, for instance, which many would do after they gave this a try). This tended to bland out the tension and twists.

But for all those reservations, and they were not easily set aside, The Captor had an ace up its sleeve in Hawke - two aces, if you counted Rapace - for they explored an interesting dynamic in their characters, again, nothing original, but played with a certain oomph that made this more compelling than it might have been. Hawke was big and brash in his performance as a man who, it turns out, is a Swede pretending to be an American (he didn't try the accent, presumably because he did not want to sound like the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show), but tempered by Rapace's reserve and fear about leaving her young son and daughter behind. Not that this quite explains why she proceeds to encapsulate the syndrome this purported to explore, indeed this took a real story and made it oddly unconvincing, but it was pacey enough to sustain your interest, and well-essayed (Mark Strong showed up fresh from prison as the other crim) among a cast who enjoyed a pretty decent rapport; it was also gleamingly photographed. But don't expect a history lesson. Music by Steve London.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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