HOSTAGE (2011) aka KINGDOM OF DUST

6 out of 10

Release Date: Unknown 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Heath Jones

Cast: Stephen Hogan, Alyy Khan, Dhaffer L’Abidine, Christopher Simon and Elyes Gabel

Writer: Heath Jones

Trailer: HOSTAGE (2011)

KINGDOM-OF-DUST-POSTERHostage is now on its second round in the supermarkets as it originally got released in 2011 under the name of Kingdom of Dust. Presumably its reissue is to do with the timely rise of ISIS and brutal kidnappings / executions in the Middle East.  It’s an effective, claustrophobic and solid little movie that pushes the differences betweens east and west forward and centre. The year is 2010, American contractor Adam Smith (STEPHEN HOGAN – STARSHIP TROOPERS 3)  is kidnapped by Iraqi extremists in 2010. He is stashed in a basement and forced to appear in propaganda videos to raise a hefty ransom for his release. The four captors include the leader, Dahkeel (ALYY KHAN – INDIAN SUMMERS), an idealist with very personal reasons for the kidnap and Ahmed (ELYES GABEL – A MOST VIOLENT YEAR). They range from hateful to friendly to indifferent. Smith has 36 hours to live. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The plot of fraught and all concerned do well with a limited budget which sees the entirety of the movie shot within a single room.  Vital performances keep the film involving and the script whilst, in places seems boiled down to polemics, is strong. East and West relations are discussed between captured and captors. Neither the American (played by Scotsman Stephen Hogan) or Dahkeel are depicted as good or evil. Smith reveals cliched views of Muslims, yet a larger respect and understanding of them than your average man on the street. Dahkeel is given sympathetic shades too, as he reveals why he’s resorted to hostage taking. Further down the cast list, the other three play potentially stock characters with energy. The film’s producer, Australian actor Christopher Simon appears as the fourth captor gives himself the least showy role but even he provides suitable back up as the blindly faithful Fras. Smith is even offered a way out by the slippery Shakir (DHAFFIR L’ABIDINE) who hints that he may be an undercover CIA operative – or is he just giving him one last mind-fuck. Although the script sits on both sides of the fence, it’s refreshing to see a political British film that refuses to nail its colours to the mast. The finally is gut-wrenching and yet it bafflingly claims to be a ‘true-story’. (I can’t find anything online.) The script could be criticised for being basic and melodramatic but I’d argue that extreme situations call for naked emotions and platitudes. It would work well as a stage-play as well as it has proven to be a very rewarding exercise for the actors involved. 6 out of 10 – Tough viewing and stage bound, Hostage is eleavted by some excellent and convincing performances by it’s very small cast. Recommended for those that want to see a film that flips Zero Dark Thirty on it’s head and offers something new yet terrifying to viewers. WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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