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Movie Review: Captive

Abigail Benjamin

Take a risk this weekend, and watch "Captive" on it's opening night on Friday, September 18, 2015. "Captive" isn't your typical Christian movie. Based on real events, "Captive" shows how an imperfect heroine fings both inner freedom from her drug addiction and external freedom from a sociopath kidnapper on the same night.

In 2005, accused felon Brian Nicholas (David Oyelowo) broke out of a courthouse jail cell in Atlanta and killed four people in his bid to escape. Subject to a massive manhunt, Nichoals held single mother Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) hostage inside her own apartment for seven hours. During her kidnapping, Ashley survives by her unusual calmness in the middle of danger and her ability to connect to the human being inside her kidnapper. In one surreal scene, the serial killer Brian asks Ashely if she needs his help to cook pancakes and he's delighted when she gives him real butter. 

Ashley's kidnapping is famous because she read the religiously themed book "The Purpose Driven Life" outloud to her kidnapper.  I was surprised to discover from the movie that she didn't start off her kidnapping as a strong Christian. In fact, Ashley lost custody of her daughter due to her drug addiction. The movie begins with Ashley seemingly hopeless struggle to overcome drug addition, keep her low paying job, and regain the right to mother her only child. At the end of the movie, Pastor Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life," appears in an Oprah clip to say that Ashley's story is important because it shows that "God can use imperfect people for his own good purpose." 

"Captive" is also an imperfect movie that serves a good purpose. The movie's pace is a little off. Sometimes the background scenes made me feel like I was watching an overly long episode of Law and Order. However, the movie's story is compelling. Actor's David Oyelowo and Kate Mara both turned complicated and layered performances. At the movie's end I was left asking big questions about what it means to "set the captive free" from the emotional bonds of despair and addiction. 

I strongly recommend seeing that movie Captive with a Christian friend and talking about movie's meaning over wine or cappuccino!


Captive is rated PG-13 for violence, especially a brutal 5 minute murder sequence at the start of the movie, and two incidents of drug use.There was some bad language. There is no sexual assault. The Catholic News Service has reviewed this film as A-III (Adults).