Rupert Wyatt’s wannabe sci-fi feature is so jumbled and idiotic that I’m stunned it ever got released.
His tale begins in the bleak, wasteland remains of Chicago in 2027, nine years after Earth was invaded by spiny, insectoid aliens who call themselves “Legislators.” At first glimpse, they look like huge, angry porcupines, riding around in a spaceship that resembles a large, lumpy sweet potato or yam.
This technologically superior, occupying force exploits Earth’s resources, maintaining authoritarian stability from their walled-off, underground lairs. Predictably, there are defiant dissidents and secret collaborators. And it’s often hard to tell the difference.
Teenage Gabriel Dummond (Ashton Sanders) works in a factory, wiping data from cell phones and other digital devices that have been banned. His older brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors) was a guerrilla martyr. So he’s an obvious recruit when Phoenix rebels plan to bomb a huge ‘unity’ rally in Soldier Field. Their credo is “Light a match. Ignite a war.”
Chicago’s most stolid lawman, cagey William Mulligan (John Goodman), knows something’s afoot in the inner-city’s Pilsen district, barking orders when he’s not visiting his favorite prostitute (Vera Farmiga), dancing to the music of Nat King Cole’s classic “Stardust.”
Scripted by Wyatt and his wife, Erica Beeney, the extraterrestrial action is unfocused and muddled, while the Earthling characters are so undeveloped, that it’s incoherent, despite its climactic twist and subdued sociopolitical subtext about making moral choices under duress.
What’s unbelievably ludicrous is that resistance freedom-fighters communicate via ‘classified ads’ in local newspapers which, evidently, still exist. Then there’s that Trojan horse, a literary allusion to Greeks bearing gifts, along with Rob Simonsen’s perpetually pulsating score.
So why did Focus Features release this film? Apparently, British writer/director/producer Rupert Wyatt is the founding member of Picture Farm, a film collective. His claim-to-fame is having directed “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), spawning one sequel and a second in the works.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Captive State is a tediously tiresome 2, a totally unsatisfying waste-of-time.