Lost the Plot: Poor Bruce Willis-Again Forced to Fight Bad Guys with Bad Hair

By Kermode, Mark | New Statesman (1996), March 14, 2005 | Go to article overview

Lost the Plot: Poor Bruce Willis-Again Forced to Fight Bad Guys with Bad Hair


Kermode, Mark, New Statesman (1996)


Hostage (15)

How do you solve a problem like Bruce Willis? On the one hand, he's the barrel-chested, bullet-headed, no-nonsense action hero who takes out the trash in wise-cracking skull-thwackers such as Die Hard (and its on-going sequels) and The Last Boy Scout. On the other hand, he's the surprisingly sensitive Hollywood star whose money-spinning presence has helped promote such admirably intelligent fare as Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys and M Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Occasionally a movie comes along that allows Willis to be both smart and violent, such as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, in which he played a boxer who wields a punch, a chainsaw and a samurai sword with arch postmodern irony. But more often than not, Willis has had to choose between flexing his muscles and exercising his grey matter. Ask critics to name their favourite Willis film and they may well pick Alan Rudolph's Mortal Thoughts, a brilliant but sadly little-seen thriller in which Willis excelled as a resolutely unheroic abusive spouse. But ask a multiplex audience which new Bruce movie they're most looking forward to and chances are it'll be the forthcoming Die Hard 4.0, the prospect of which bespeaks a growing desperation for another sure-fire, no-brain, bankable hit.

All of which brings us to Hostage, a nasty, manipulative thriller that dearly wants to assert its offbeat, upmarket credentials (hey, the director's French!) even as it beats the audience about the head with gormless, explosive action. Willis stars as a top-flight LAPD hostage negotiator (stop sniggering at the back), Jeff Talley, whose winning streak ends in the film's opening moments when he makes a bad call on some off-the-peg crazy, with blood-splattered results.

Stricken with guilt, Talley shaves his head, hangs up his scruffy duds, and skulks off to become a uniformed police chief in the quiet backwater of Bristo Camino. Here, every day is a "low-crime Monday"--until three adolescent mongrels break into a house in an affluent neighbourhood, shoot a cop and hold hostage a family whose dad just happens to be an accountant for the Mob. To complicate matters, Talley's own family are kidnapped by said Mob, who want him to play this one according to their rules. Et voila! We have the Big Moral Dilemma that is summed up in the film's provocative tag line: "Would you sacrifice another family to save your own?"

According to the film's director, Florent Siri, whose impressive Euro-thriller Nid de guepes/The Nest brought him international attention, Hostage is "a psychological thriller about redemption" that owes a stylistic debt to the conventions of film noir.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lost the Plot: Poor Bruce Willis-Again Forced to Fight Bad Guys with Bad Hair
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.