“Light a match, Ignite a war” is the mantra in the new movie Captive State starring John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, and Johnathan Majors directed by Rupert Wyatt. A film set 9 years after the world surrendered to an alien race and focusing on the insurgency determined to overthrow them and the humans trying to stop them. It focuses on Chicago and the resistance there. There are swirling flocks of camera drones keeping an eye on the residents of Chicago making sure the everybody stays in line. No one knows who they can trust, giving the whole film a a feeling of occupied France during World War II.
John Goodman plays William Mulligan, an officer tasked with tracking down the insurgents. The solid John Goodman turns in a solid performance, but the material never gives him a chance to shine. Similarly, Ashton Sanders who was spectacular in Moonlight, never gets a chance to show off his acting skills.
About half-way through the film, there is a really well done sequence tracking the insurgents as they communicate with each other to in act a plan against the occupation all the while keeping their identities hidden from each other. It helps build the world around the characters and gives you a sense of how the world works. Unfortunately, we never spend enough time with these characters in order to quite feel anything for them.
The film as a whole feels a bit unfocused, leaving main characters for big chunks of the movie. I like the feel of occupied Chicago and the world our characters inhabit; unfortunately, because of the scattered focus of the film, I was left wanting to connect more to the characters.
The world created by Captive State is an interesting one that feels well fleshed-out and I enjoyed my time in it. However, the characters I spent that time with weren’t nearly as full as the world they inhabit.