The Captor

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Robert Budreau

Starring

Ethan Hawke Mark Strong Noomi Rapace

Anticipation.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace in a heist comedy. Okay, we’ll bite…

Enjoyment.

Hawke brings the big energy, but the whole thing just falls flat.

In Retrospect.

More like Dog’s Dinner Afternoon.

Ethan Hawke gets his scream on as the bank robber who coined the first recorded example of Stockholm Syndrome.

This is a textbook case of when an actor clearly gives it their all and it really doesn’t count for squat. Robert Budreau’s misfiring heist comedy places at its centre Ethan Hawke, sporting a mop top and handlebar ’stache, who has, we can only speculate, been advised to “go full Nic Cage” and scream every line of dialogue like the boom mic is just out of range. We have bulging head veins, rivulets of sweat and even that old acting staple – the flying rage spittle. Initially, the high energy is bearable, but after an hour it’s clear that all that noise is overcompensating for a considerable lack of purpose elsewhere.

Yet Hawke’s decibel bothering turn as petty crim Lars Nystrom (based on real life robber Jan-Erik Olsson) drains all the air out of this would-be serviceable recreation of a real 1973 raid on Stockholm’s Kreditbanken, which would eventually be used to define the affliction we now refer to as Stockholm Syndrome. Despite his being loud and proud, Hawke’s character quickly draws the amorous attentions of prim clerk Bianca (Noomi Rapace), yet their burgeoning love is tested by the wily siege-breaking tactics of the chilled police chief (Christopher Heyerdahl) who wants Lars and his accomplice Gunnar (Mark Strong) back behind bars.

The film’s original title was ‘Stockholm’, but it has since been altered to the tediously generic ‘The Captor’, perhaps a sign that any deeper exploration into the psychology of the situation, or the how or why captives fall in love with their captors, is delivered as an airy-fairy afterthought. When Bianca’s husband arrives in the bank and manfully requests to trade places with her, he’s quickly shown to be an inadequate boob. He asks her how she goes about feeding the kids, which she explains with a gun to her head. Lars knows the score straight away.

Despite the fact that he’s firing off a sub-machine gun and is clearly a hopped up lunatic, Lars is presented as a lovable rogue – a dreamer, no less! – who’s a little messed-up in the head, and what he’s doing is just small-time high jinx that, essentially, means well. The way Budreau writes the character (and Hawke plays him), there is no wiggle room for ambiguity, or any internal struggle between conflicting impulses of violence and romance. Somewhere along the line, it was decided this was going to be a throwaway farce, and any sense of wider import just drained out of the material. So let’s just shout this one across the finish line.

Published 18 Jun 2019

Tags: Ethan Hawke Mark Strong Noomi Rapace Robert Budreau

Anticipation.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace in a heist comedy. Okay, we’ll bite…

Enjoyment.

Hawke brings the big energy, but the whole thing just falls flat.

In Retrospect.

More like Dog’s Dinner Afternoon.

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