thu 20/06/2024

The Captor review - Stockholm syndrome silliness | reviews, news & interviews

The Captor review - Stockholm syndrome silliness

The Captor review - Stockholm syndrome silliness

Farcical hostage crisis rescued by Rapace

Strange fascination: Bianca (Noomi Rapace) and Lars (Ethan Hawke)Signature

The botched 1973 hostage incident which inspired the term Stockholm syndrome comes to flatly comic life here, the strange psychological phenomenon of captives falling for their captors over time being reduced to an absurd caper.

Bringing out the insipid worst in Ethan Hawke as machine-gun wielding softie Lars, it remains watchable thanks to Noomi Rapace’s enigmatic, quivering power as the hostage he bonds with.

Lars takes over a Stockholm bank one sunny morning, in a city here parodically pastel-coloured and post-hippie, with the radio dial agreeably set to Dylan in his country-rock phase (the real-life hostage-taker’s taste ran more to Roberta Flack, singing “Killing Me Softly” incessantly as the crisis unfolded).

Rapace shows why even Rooney Mara couldn’t replace her as Lisbeth Salander, suggesting spooked intelligence jangling behind Bianca’s librarian glasses. For both Lars’ female captives, terror gives way to a taste of forbidden life. As Bianca’s fellow bank teller, Bea Santos (pictured bottom left with Rapace and Mark Rendall) almost wordlessly blooms with the thrill of it.

Lars (Ethan Hawke) in The CaptorThough writer-director Robert Budreau struggles to find a feminist angle in a woman being tied up by an unreliable man with a gun, Rapace’s clear superiority to Hawke’s dimwit leaves her running the show by the end, growing to prefer this strange captivity to dull married life. The moment where they start to make love brings a mutual peace truer than anything else in a mostly silly film, the dangerous limbo they’ve both stumbled into momentarily complete.

Budreau attempts a wider social context. Sweden’s Prime Minister, Olaf Palme (Shanti Roney), watches Nixon trying to bluff his way out of Watergate on TV as he fumbles his own response to Lars’ highly public demands. The police, meanwhile, are pompous, repressed dullards in incongruously colourful threads, led by a Police Chief (Christopher Heyerdahl) so stiff-backed you fear he may snap. Does the hostage-taking reveal wider fault-lines in Swedish society? Budreau can’t say. The period setting is mostly a matter for the costume department, primarily its wig division.

Bea Santos, Noomi Rapace and Mark Rendall in The CaptorEven when Lars’ more ruthless old prison pal Gunnar (Mark Strong) is released from jail to join him in his barely superior cage in the armed police-blanketed bank, these career criminals are presented as essentially harmless buffoons compared to the cops outside. Puffed up by his initial success, Lars asks to be called “the Outlaw”, and wants the car Steve McQueen used in Bullitt for his getaway. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is jovially mentioned too. Falling prey to his own Stockholm syndrome, Budreau lets his crooks off their dangerous foolishness.

In a micro-genre which also includes the funny but sweatily tragic Dog Day Afternoon, this is a wasted opportunity, filmed without imagination. Written and played, too, as if the story being told is inconsequential, it’s hard to care about anyone except the mysterious Rapace. 


Falling prey to his own Stockholm syndrome, Budreau lets his crooks off their dangerous foolishness


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters