"Captive State" Review: An Earnest Attempt At Something New But Familiar
Science fiction films have an amazing way of drawing out the collective wonder, mystery about the universe, and our relationship to it. Good sci-fi finds a balance between questions unknown and what we do know. Captive State works because it shies away from what we expect to see in a film about an invasion of our planet. We expect to see aliens. We expect to see technology we don’t understand. Instead, co-writer/director Rupert Wyatt gives us a tense thriller dealing with what the beginnings of an uprising looks like with science fiction as the backdrop.
We’re immediately dropped into a family car tearing through the streets of Chicago just after a species has descended upon us and are making their dominant presence known. Lines are drawn, and there are certainly places that humans can’t or won’t go. The Drummond family ignores the rules, resulting in the mother and father being vaporized in front of their two sons, Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) and Rafe (Jonathan Majors). Nine years later, humanity is fully submissive to the alien race.
There is no exposition as to what the new world order and rule is. We learn through characters and their actions. John Goodman is detective William Mulligan. Crime is at an all time low because the aliens (rarely seen) apparently don’t play that. So police not only serve and protect us, but now observe and keep tabs on humans that may step out of line for the invaders. Mulligan is keeping tabs on his ex-partner’s son Gabriel, whose brother, Rafe, became a recent martyr for an underground resistance called Phoenix. With an upcoming peace rally in which the aliens will make an appearance, surveillance is at an all time high.
Captive State may be fifteen minutes too long, but there is no doubt that screenwriters Erica Beeney and Rupert Wyatt have thought this world through from A to Z. That’s what makes this particular sci-fi film fun. It may take itself too seriously, but you don’t have time to realize that because you’re too busy trying to keep up with what’s unfolding. With strong performances from Goodman, Majors, Sanders and Vera Farmiga as Jane Doe, the world of Captive State feels authentic, lived in, and realistic.
This is the type of film that may not take the box office by storm this weekend, but people will say “that was actually pretty good” as they discover it on streaming platforms in the future. I think its worthy of the big screen treatment for your plans this weekend. Its earnest attempt at giving us something refreshingly new but familiar might just captivate your mind and imagination.