Stockholm Syndrome

noun

“feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.”

Loosely based on the Norrmalmstorg bank robbery and hostage crisis which inspired the syndrome, writer/director Robert Budreau reteams with the star of his previous Chet Baker biopic Born To Be Blue, Ethan Hawke, for what the film makes clear is an absurd, but true, story.

Stockholm, 1973. Sporting a cowboy hat and a machine gun, the Outlaw (Ethan Hawke) saunters into the city’s biggest bank, takes the staff hostage and demands the release of his imprisoned BFF and fellow bank robber Gunnar (Mark Strong) and a fast getaway car, ideally the same one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.

As the hours wear on and the far from trustworthy police and politicians outside the bank try to get the drop on him, an intense bond starts to develop between the jittery, charismatic Outlaw and his hostage bank teller Bianca (Noomi Rapace), a bond that may just save all their lives…    

A darkly absurd Scandi riff on Dog Day Afternoon, The Captor plays a little fast and loose with the facts to pull off an uneven but entertaining tale that may not be 100% true but certainly captures the essential truth of the events, Hawke’s livewire tragicomic just believably sympathetic enough that it feels natural that Rapace’s sensible buttoned-up bank teller would fall for him. 

The performances across the board are excellent with Christopher Heyerdahl’s increasingly unhinged police chief a threat owes a debt to the frustrated police chief essayed by Herbert Lom in The Pink Panther movies while Mark Strong is as reliable as you’d expect as Hawke’s cooler, smarter, less trustworthy mate. But the film lives or dies by the central pairing of Hawke and Rapace. 

As Bianca, Rapace has rarely been better; understated, somewhat mousy, a practical wife and mother trying to make the best of a bad situation slowly warming to Hawke’s likable crook, perhaps discovering for the first time true passion. In perhaps her best scene, when given the chance to speak by telephone to her husband, she calmly and concisely explains to him how to cook fish the way the children like it, reasoning that if she’s killed, her family still need to eat. Hawke meanwhile is practically a Loony Tunes cartoon. With his larger-than-life cowboy get-up and manic intensity, he still finds the Outlaw’s tragic core and few actors can compare with him when it comes to playing desperation quite such neediness. He’s lively and electric and Budreau’s film is just energetic to keep up with him.

Tense and funny with a terrific, nervy performance from Ethan Hawke, The Captor is an infectious little comedy thriller with heart.

Movie Review: The Captor
4.0Overall Score
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