Movie ReviewsCaptive State – An Overambitious Sci-Fi Film

Keith NoakesMarch 18, 2019

You may feel like a captive while watching this.

Synopsis: Set in a Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, CAPTIVE STATE explores the lives on both sides of the conflicts – the collaborators and the dissidents. (Focus Features)

Starring: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, and Jonathan Majors

Writers: Erica Beeney and Rupert Wyatt

Director: Rupert Wyatt

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 109mins


With Captive State there’s definitely something here but unfortunately, it bites off far more than it can chew. The main problem with the film was that it tries too hard in certain areas and not hard enough in others. This would only make it difficult to ever get into the story and will surely cause some viewers to check out as a result. This sci-fi epic covers multiple sides of an alien invasion set nine years later in a future Chicago neighborhood. Due to its lower budget, there’s only so much it can do and it showed with the limited appearances by said aliens, however, it would work in its favor, creating some suspense, until we actually got to see them.

The film would jump between two sets of characters without ever gaining any momentum with either, a police chief named Bill Mulligan (Goodman) and a pair of brothers named Gabriel (Sanders) and Rafe Drummond (Majors). Both Mulligan and the Drummonds would find themselves on opposite sides of the law with Mulligan as the law looking to take down the resistance for which the Drummonds were a part of. The constant jumping between both subplots only masked the lack of character development.

Throughout the film, it was tough to gauge where Mulligan stood while the resistance, though interesting, didn’t go nearly far enough. The convoluted nature of the story, full of a few too many twists and turns, meant spending time waiting for something to happen which never did. Eventually, it became hard to care about anything. The story would come together at the end but at that point, it would be too little too late. The ambiguous ending would be the cherry on top.

Despite the subpar story, the acting was decent. Goodman was good as Mulligan though he wasn’t given all that much to do with his character. None of the actors would be given that much to do with their characters for that matter. Sanders and Majors were fine as Gabriel and Rafe Drummond and were at least somewhat compelling to watch. Ultimately, the film would be better served focusing on one or the other in order to do either justice.

Overall, Captive State was a dull and convoluted mess that bit off more than it could chew. The acting was fine, however, the film would simply try to do too much in certain areas while not trying hard enough in others, making it difficult to ever get into the story. Despite its lower budget, the film still managed to create a decent world but it was just hard to care about any of it.

Score: 4/10

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