Captive State is a messy sci-fi thriller


Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

  Captive State is a science fiction thriller centered in Chicago, where an alien race has infiltrated the city and is now living there, controlling the citizens. Rupert Wyatt returns after his five year hiatus to direct this film that stars Ashton Sanders, John Goodman, and Vera Farmiga.

  This film opens very strong with a short, but tense opening scene that introduces us to the presence of the aliens and the power they hold. It follows a family driving through a chaotic intersection, and they blow past police in an attempt to escape the city, but the audience doesn’t yet know why. It is then revealed that the aliens formed a blockade in a tunnel, forcing the family to try to turn around. The aliens then blow a hole straight through the car, obliterating the whole car and some of the people inside. It’s an inconsequential scene plot-wise, but it was an excellent way to introduce the audience to the world and establish the stakes of the enemy.

  It’s unfortunate that the rest of the 110-minute run time does nothing else to further the world building, as Captive State is a complete incoherent mess of a sci-fi thriller. Wyatt’s storytelling is extremely difficult to follow, as the audience is presented with little to no exposition, which left me very confused for the entire film. We are never given a clear look at what was actually going on. I understand they wanted to remain mysterious, but in a film that jumps around a lot, it can be difficult to follow, which compromises the whole experience since you are constantly trying to fit in the pieces.

  This is a very sloppily constructed film, as it jumps around far too much. We are constantly having new information being thrown at us while we are still trying to understand what happened 10 minutes ago. This only adds to the confusion, as the choppy and quick editing between scenes makes it hard to follow.

  The most disappointing aspect of this film is that outside of the opening scene, the aliens have no presence in the film at all. None of the characters are affected by them, and it never really feels like they are much of a threat since they never do anything. I understand that this a low budget film, so they probably ran out of money and couldn’t shoot any more scenes with them, but you can still make them a known presence through dialog and character interactions. This film had none of that, and instead opts for a standard crime drama, and not even a good one at that.

  The acting isn’t bad, but there isn’t any noteworthy performances. Ashton Sanders does as much as he can with the role, but the material he is given never allows him to really do something with the role. John Goodman is possibly the blandest he’s ever been, which is disappointing since his previous performance in a similar low-budget sci-fi film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, was so great. Vera Farmiga has only a handful of scenes, and she doesn’t do much with her role either.

  The only takeaways I can find in this film were the opening scenes and maybe a few shots that looked good. There’s one shot where huge meteors are falling from the sky, and we get a shot of a dog in the center of the frame barking at the sky while these monumental meteors come crashing down behind it. It was some great stuff, and I wished there was more of it in the film.

  I am a huge fan if sci-fi, so I was very disappointed in Captive State. I honestly can’t find any way for me to recommend this to anyone. Not even hardcore sci-fi fans would enjoy it.

  Rating: 2/10