June 3, 2019  (Web Review)

Captive State

Universal, 110 min., PG-13, DVD: $22.99, Blu-ray: $34.99, June 11

Reviewer rating: 1.0/4

Rupert Wyatt’s wannabe sci-fi feature is a jumbled and idiotic tale that begins in the bleak wasteland remains of Chicago, circa 2027, after Earth has been invaded by insectoid aliens calling themselves Legislators, who look like huge, angry porcupines, riding around in a spaceship that resembles a large, lumpy sweet potato. This technologically superior occupying force exploits Earth’s resources, maintaining their authoritarian stability from the safety of walled-off underground lairs. Predictably, there are defiant dissidents and secret collaborators, although it’s often hard to tell the difference. Teen Gabriel Drummond (Ashton Sanders) works in a factory, wiping data from digital devices that have been banned. His older brother (Jonathan Majors) was a guerrilla martyr. So Gabriel is an obvious recruit when rebels plan to bomb a huge unity rally in Soldier Field. Cagey lawman William Mulligan (John Goodman) knows something’s afoot in the inner-city, barking orders when he’s not visiting his favorite prostitute (Vera Farmiga). Scripted by Wyatt and his wife Erica Beeney, the extraterrestrial action here is unfocused and muddled, while the Earthling characters are undeveloped to the point of being incoherent (and it’s unbelievably ludicrous that resistance freedom-fighters communicate via classified ads in newspapers). Despite a climactic twist and some sociopolitical subtext about making moral choices under duress, this is a tedious, tiresome, and totally unsatisfying waste of time. Not recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director/producer/co-writer Rupert Wyatt and producer David Crockett, and the production segments “Igniting a War” (5 min.) and “Building the World of Captive State” (5 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a decent extras package for a lame sci-fi thriller.] (S. Granger)