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Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), struggling to resist the temptations of meth all around her, has lost custody of her five year old daughter to her Aunt and is barely getting by. [Author’s note: I was blown away by the acting chops exhibited by Elle Graham. I normally don’t single out actors or actresses but as a child she showed incredible awareness and skill, reminding me much of Elle Fanning at her age. Can’t wait to see what else this little one does in the future.] We get the sense that Ashley has been negligent in the past so when her aunt explains that it is imperative for her to show up at her daughter’s mommy/daughter fashion show the next day, there’s an “or else” implied. Meanwhile, in the background of Smith’s life we are seeing the scenes unfold of a live criminal pursuit of the highly dangerous Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo). Nichols both in the film and in real life, murders many in his quest to see his newborn sun. The entire city of Atlanta is on edge as this cold blooded killer is leaving a trail of bodies. He was in the process of being arraigned for another crime when he managed to escape.
Loathe and disgust consumed me as I watched David Oyelowo portray Nichols (although brilliantly) he played a cold blooded killer very well, but even better, he somehow humanized him. Nichols was after all, doing this so he could see his baby which is both creepy and sweet at the same time. When the two inevitably meet, it’s a one in a million scenario. Smith is held in her apartment as Nichols figures out his next steps. By the grace of God (who is referenced quite a bit throughout), Nichols does not assault Smith beyond shoving her against a mirror. Being that he is so volatile, there were several times that I had to watch between my fingertips because I truly believed he would and could just strike her as he did to so many others. This is a man with little regard for human life and no concept of ownership.
His counselor explains that he’s essentially a sociopath, but in watching the movie in its entirety, I determined that he is also very intelligent. At one point Smith pulls out the book The Purpose Driven Life and reads it to Nichols. Together they come to understand that God has a purpose for all and has given us what we need to live. It was a miracle that Nichols let Smith got to her daughter’s fashion show the next day. The film follows the intense 8+ hours they spent together holed up in that apartment. Eventually it is Smith that calms Nichols down enough to turn himself in instead of attacking the police.
Smith showed incredible bravery and resilience throughout the film. It was almost a “What Would You Do?” scenario throughout, as she could have easily killed him on quite a few occasions. The real Smith has stated that at one point she saw Nichols through Christ’s eyes which I thought to be quite an astounding statement. While anyone could potentially watch this film and enjoy it, I have a feeling that it really hits home for people that identify as Christians. At the end of this one night film event, Nichols’s mother is talking to Smith and thanks her for little things she did for her son. The producer states that you don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. That was the theme throughout, “Brian killed four people but at one point I chose drugs instead of my daughter.”- Ashley Smith
The end of the film included a nice tribute to the victims of Brian Nichols, who has remained in prison for the last ten years. Overall Captive was well acted and kept the viewer’s interest but this movie definitely brings out a particular movie goer so as long as you don’t mind a lot of “Amen!” at the end, I think this film could captivate you.

Captive is streaming now on the following services:
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  1. I agree about Elle Graham, she was a bright spot in the movie, so natural and genuine. Movie was good.

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