Fun with Formula Films

Mar 202005
Authors: Ryan Skeels

There is a certain, extensive checklist one must follow when attempting to put together a successful formula film, and it appears that Florent Emilio Siri had that list at the top of his clipboard when he directed the Spring Break release "Hostage."

First of all, there must be at least one big-name actor/actress whom everyone loves and several actors/actresses that look familiar, just to keep it interesting. This is where Bruce Willis comes in as Police Chief Jeff Talley. Talley was formerly an Los Angeles Police Department hostage negotiator but has since moved to a small town in Brisco County, Calif.

This is where items number two and three on the list come into play. Number two: The main character must have a traumatic incident happen that causes him to downsize his life and take it easy. Number three: He must also have an awkward and empty relationship with his family that only another traumatic incident can fix.

As the list goes on, more attention must be paid to detail. For instance, you must have several curve balls ready to throw at the audience. Once people think they know what's going on, a farfetched twist must occur. This list item also pertains to the identity of all the players in the game; you cannot let the audience in on all the background info too fast – slowly let them grasp the twistedness. For instance, you could put three kids in charge of the hostage situation, make two of them brothers, and make the third more creepy and sadistic then you could ever truly grasp.

If you have to make him over-the-top and ridiculously shady, then do so, but only at your discretion because it can cause unintended laughter in the ticket-holder's gut, as the character of Mars did.

Then there comes the victim section of the checklist. First you must establish some sort of semi-caring parent with kids who seem to adore him. You must have a younger child with an I-want-to-pat-your-head cuteness to him and an older sibling who is not only rebellious but also minutely gothic in her dress; she must attract the attention of the creepy villain to give a splash of sexual tension.

Last but not least is the big-time show topper and the everlastingly explosive finale. The end of your formula flick must be an absolute chaos of emotion with villains turning on villains, little children holding massive pistols, Molotov cocktails flying this way and that, and to top it all off Bruce Willis in a slow-motion, world-saving rampage. If you need a few tips on how to implement these tactics, consulting the crew of "Hostage" may be your best bet, as the movie covered all the bases.

Cliche, used and overdone aren't quite the words to describe "Hostage," but they're the first ones that come to mind. For the stereotypical Willis/hostage/Hollywood "Panic Room"-type movie, "Hostage" is perfect. For an original, unique and "happening" flick, it's a big letdown. It's really not terrible and never moves slowly, but come on, write your own damn checklist.

2 out of 4 rams

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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