Captive State follows a young anarchist (Ashton Sanders) and an alien-loyal detective (John Goodman), as they navigate a near-future Earth that exists in a political climate in which the world was invaded and now controlled by a powerful alien race. Referred to as the uncontested global legislators, the aliens have integrated human government and technology to control the populace. With the human race essentially divided between those that embrace the ruling aliens and those that oppose them, the anarchists attempt to give control back to humanity.
Captive State Review
I love original indie scifi flicks. These are often the most terrifying movies of the year, tackling political, sociological, psychological and philosophical issues with subversive metaphor and symbolism. Captive State is more heavy-handed in its message than the films I've enjoyed in the past, but its delivery of familiar subject matter is impactful and effective.
The terrorist themes centered around our protagonist feel like a direct correlation to the state of our world. This is a concept that is regularly addressed in alien invasion films, as they tend to have an inadvertent parallel with the plucky, outgunned protagonist fighting against a superior force. We embrace this as Americans, even though on a global scale, we're the oppressive aliens and certain groups see themselves as the plucky protagonist.
But it's important to acknowledge the key differences. Firstly, aliens represented in most invasion movies are a fictional race that have a moral code limited to the extent of the script, which is usually that of a cold-hearted plague of locusts, and therefore doesn't make for a proper metaphor for any government on a planet populated generally by beings that have souls and a general sense of morality and well-being for others. To use films like this to defend the actions of terrorists that harm innocents is redirecting messages that shouldn't be intended. I'm not a political person, so read that as saying that violence is generally not the answer.
The surveillance and enforcement methods and technology also feel like foreboding political commentary, but one that is quite familiar in a lot of films of a similar ilk, tracing all the way back to 1984 and beyond. In general, this approach isn't terribly original, and the film's focus on avoiding and operating around the various enforcement measures doesn't feel unique and therefore negatively affects the thrills at times.
I would describe the plot as convoluted, but in a concise way that drives story at the expense of strong characters outside of our two leads. Most of the supporting cast is a means to an end, which is great for this particular story, but could feel weak to some, considering the depth of the plot itself.
I loved this film's progression and slow-burning espionage, and set in an environment that feels different from any other alien invasion movie. We've lost, but a lot of the populace doesn't see it that way, which makes things even worse. It's a difficult concept to pull off and keep the audience invested in, but this film pulls that off.
I can't help but wonder what could have happened if this film had been R. To be honest, little would have changed, but some of the big, key moments may have had a little more pop. But that's of course coming from a desensitized undead serial killer from Hell...so...