“The Captor” Film Review
By: Joseph Perrry (@JosephWPerryJWP)
Canadian writer director Robert Budreau’s The Captor (originally titled Stockholm) takes a fictionalized, offbeat, dark comedy approach to the real-life failed bank robbery that gave birth to the term and syndrome Stockholm Syndrome. Although liberties are freely taken with Jan-Eric Olsson’s 1973 heist attempt and taking of hostages, the film delivers a highly entertaining story and terrific performances by Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, and their costars.
Hawke is always tremendous (his performance in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed  is must-see stuff), and here he delivers the goods once again as Kaj Hansson AKA Lars Nystrom, a Swedish-born American who raids Stockholm’s Kreditbanken full of bravado and chutzpah. Among his hostages is demure bank clerk Bianca (Rapace). The two form a bond that eventually goes the romantic route, while Police Chief Mattson (Christopher Heyerdahl in another outstanding performance here) finds himself increasingly flustered and frustrated the more he plays hardball with Nystrom. Mark Strong is also excellent as Gunnar Sorrensson, Nystrom’s close friend who he springs from prison as part of his negotiations — though Sorrensson is working with the police to try to defuse the hostage situation.
Hawke lets it all hang out as the long-hair–wig-wearing, Bob Dylan-loving, guns-blazing robber who gives himself the nickname “The Outlaw.” The character is written in such a way, though, that it is hard to imagine the captives siding with him, as he goes from gentle “Hey, I’m on your side and The Man would sacrifice you to get me” rebel to full bullet-spraying lunatic at short notice. Hawke’s performance is worth the price of admission alone, though, despite any such writing shortcomings. The rest of the main cast puts on a veritable acting clinic, as well.
Budreau directs with aplomb, though the comedy wins out over tension. With a bit more teeth, The Captor might have been an edgier, more suspenseful film, considering the original historical event, but this reviewer is quite delighted with the amusing ride that the filmmaker delivers.
Strange-history and psychology buffs may have a difficult time with the fictitious license taken in The Captor, but viewers interested in an oddball crime outing along the lines of Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and The King of Comedy (1982) should find plenty of enjoyment with the film.
The Captor is currently in theaters and on digital download.
Joseph Perry is one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast (whenitwascool.com/up-hill-both-ways-podcast/) and Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast (decadesofhorror.com/category/classicera/). He also writes for the retro pop culture website That’s Not Current (thatsnotcurrent.com), and film websites Diabolique Magazine (diaboliquemagazine.com), Gruesome Magazine (gruesomemagazine.com), The Scariest Things (scariesthings.com), Ghastly Grinning (ghastlygrinning.com), and film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope (videoscopemag.com) and Drive-In Asylum (etsy.com/shop/GroovyDoom).
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