[Screen It]


(2019) (John Goodman, Ashton Sanders) (PG-13)

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Science Fiction: Nine years after an alien invasion, human resistance fighters plot to stage a major attack in Chicago while a dogged cop attempts to thwart them.
In the year 2027, nine years have passed since an alien force invaded Earth and the governments of the world surrendered. Now, humanity lives to service the extraterrestrials by building them special habitats underground in many of the major cities. In Chicago, a small resistance force led by Rafe Drummond (JONATHAN MAJORS), former Marine Patrick Ellison (JAMES RANSONE), newspaperman Charles Rittenhouse (ALAN RUCK), and resistance fighter Anita (CAITLIN EWALD) attempt to mount a major attack at a staged alien-human unity rally at Soldier Field.

But a dogged cop named William Mulligan (JOHN GOODMAN), who's trying to keep the peace, gets wind of the plot and looks to use Rafe's younger brother, Gabriel (ASHTON SANDERS), as an informant to try and thwart the rebels' efforts. Mulligan is unsuccessful and is informed by his boss, Commissioner Eugene Igoe (KEVIN DUNN), that the aliens are going to level the section of the city where the plot was hatched.

Mulligan is from that neighborhood, though, and vows to round up those responsible first to avoid a mass killing. He has a mysterious relationship with a local prostitute named Priscilla (VERA FARMIGA) who he never has sex with, but nevertheless, he uses her as part of his investigation in a way that's not made clear until late in the film.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

"Captive State" is a movie that holds the audience's attention and interest to a point. But once that point is reached, the viewer has been kept in a well, a captive state for just a bit too long, waiting for the flick to actually become entertaining. Set in the year 2027, the story begins nine years after an alien invasion that resulted in the governments of the world surrendering. Now, humanity lives to serve its extraterrestrial overlords, building underground habitats for the "roaches" (as the film's resistance fighters term them) beneath many of the planet's major cities.

"Captive State" centers on a small resistance cell in the Windy City led by a presumed dead revolutionary named Rafe Drummond (Jonathan Majors). Rafe and his cohorts attempt to mount a major attack at a staged alien-human unity rally at Soldier Field. But the Chicago Police Department is working with the E.T.'s to maintain law and order. Quicker than you can say, "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Mr. Drummond?!" a dogged cop named William Mulligan (John Goodman) takes it upon himself to try and thwart the resistance's effort. His plan is to use Rafe's younger brother, Gabriel Drummond (Ashton Sanders of "Moonlight") to get close to the plot. At the same time, though, he has another informant -- a mysterious one -- in the form of a local prostitute named Priscilla (Vera Farmiga).

The film's interest is not in the sort of rah-rah "Let's kick them alien S.O.B.s off the planet" jingoism that made flicks like "Independence Day" and the old "V" TV miniseries so much fun. It's more interested in the inner workings of urban resistance, while the aliens are kept mostly off-screen. And for a time, director and co-screenwriter Rupert Wyatt's detailed exploration of this ragtag uprising is pretty interesting. The resistance fighters have had all digital communications shut down, their movements are tracked by implanted monitoring devices, and much of humanity has bowed to the aliens at the risk of deportation off-world deportation! So, they have to use everything from homing pigeons to old dial-up modems to go about their maneuvers.

But the fascination only lasts so long. After a while, you do yearn for some kind of payoff, some sort of emotional pull heck, for just one character to smile! Goodman lumbers through the film, looking like he's just been told he has to spend another year making out with Roseanne but with no pay. "Captive State" doesn't grip you like "District 9" did or get into your head like "Arrival" attempted to do. You leave the film understanding, even appreciating what Wyatt and his team tried to do here, but also realizing that it could have been so much more. I think this would have made a pretty darn good Netflix or Amazon Prime limited series. But as a movie, it just didn't seize me and take control like I wanted it to. I rate it a 4.5 out of 10 (T. Durgin)

Reviewed March 14, 2019 / Posted March 15, 2019

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