Should you be willing to overlook certain intrinsic difficulties, Held for Ransom is a surprisingly thoughtful hostage drama given the blunt meatheadedness of its title.
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Partly, the balance between gritty, true-life fidelity and pacy, exciting storytelling is achieved because in Rye, to whom Eric Kress’ warm, compassionate camera clings so doggedly, we have such a sympathetic, human protagonist.
This is another film about a white European mixed up in a Middle Eastern war they barely seem to understand, but on its own terms it’s a story well told.
Sympathetic performances alternately show us terrified captives and distraught and frustrated relatives, and from a terrific first act set piece where we see the risks to kidnappers when they don’t realize their new hostage is a gymnast.