“Captive” is an Engaging True Story

I have to say that the movie Captive was a job well done. It had everything I look for in movies: emotional and inspirational scenes, decent acting, strong supporting characters and one brave heroine who is actually a real person, because Captive is based on a true story. Just how much truth there is to the story is for the viewer to decide in this dramatic and bittersweet film.

Captive is about a young female named Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) who is a recovering drug addict. Smith goes to a church-based recovery group so she can gain custody of her daughter Paige (Elle Graham) and have a second chance to be a mother. Soon after we meet Smith, she is kidnapped by Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo), the antagonist in this unfortunately true and sad story. 

It is later revealed that Nichols was sentenced to jail on rape charges, but escaped a prison sentence because he found out from his lawyers that he had a son and didn’t want go to jail. When he captures Smith, he admits to her that he did not rape anyone and that the girl who accused him was his ex–girlfriend, who he claimed he loved. Throughout the movie, Smith talks to him and gains a better understanding of who he truly is. She reads to him The Purpose Driven Life, a book written by Rick Warren, which talks about how God has a purpose for everyone in their life, including being forgiven.

Mara’s acting was exceptional  and proved that she can stand as a strong leading lady in film. She portrayed Smith as a brave, good-hearted person who struggled in her life. Mara gave the audience a rollercoaster full of emotions: fear, sadness, hope, and pain. She made you feel for her character as she too overcame her demons. 

Oyelowo once again proved that he is a good actor, first in Selma and now this role. He played his character with such strong emotions, transitioning from a monster to a man that elicited empathy in the end; I couldn’t help but feel some sort of grief for Nichols. If Oyelowo keeps playing roles that make him shine, he could become a Hollywood star and maybe even a household name. 

There were many amazing supporting characters, but two in particular helped move the plot along: Detective John Chestnut (Michael K. Williams) and Detective Sanchez (Leonar Varela) were pivotal to this movie. Together, Williams and Varela had good chemistry and really convinced the audience that they were real detectives. They helped make the movie interesting and it was easy to understand what went down on both sides of the story. My favorite scene with Williams is when his character takes his frustration out on a coffee machine because he can’t find Nichols. Williams really stood out and was one of my favorites in the movie. 

Another aspect I enjoyed in the movie was the real news footage playing on the TV screens. It gave the audience solid proof that these events actually did happen. The filmmakers decided to use half of the beginning credits to show a real life Oprah interview with Ashely Smith and Rick Warren, which I thought was brilliant and added a nice, touching moment to the film. 

I think the main, positive message from the film is that no matter what you did in your past, we all have a purpose in life, big or small; that whatever personal struggles we go through,  there is still a heart and soul in everybody. I’m not trying to justify the actions of Nichols and say that what he did was right, but in God’s eyes, he deserves a second chance to have purpose in his life.