Captive Review

Overall Rating


Strong biblical worldview set in a seemingly impossible situation

Ranking Categories:
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance 4.5stars.png
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships 4.0stars.png
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations 3.0stars.png
Family Viewing Suitability 2.5stars.png
Entertainment Value 3.5stars.png
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Based on the incredible true story of Ashley Smith’s harrowing experience in 2005 as the hostage of Brian Nichols—an armed murderer on the run in Atlanta—CAPTIVE opens in theaters nationwide on September 18th.  

Written by Brian Bird (Touched by an Angel) and directed by Jerry Jameson (Walker, Texas Ranger; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), CAPTIVE boasts a high-caliber cast including Kate Mara (TRANSCENDENCE, House of Cards) as Smith; David Oyelowo (SELMA, INTERSTELLAR) as Nichols; and Michael Kenneth Williams (12 YEARS A SLAVE) as Detective John Chestnut.

Following closely to Smith’s testimony as shared in her 2005 book, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero, CAPTIVE offers moviegoers a gritty look at God’s grace, mercy and redemptive love—for both Smith and Nichols—in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation.

Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance


The Bible is filled with messy people with messy lives. Yet from the opening pages of Genesis to the closing chapters of Revelation, God’s plan to rescue and redeem us from the consequences of our sin against Him and each other is front and center. In CAPTIVE, Smith’s messy story as a meth-addicted single mom who has lost custody of her daughter collides powerfully with Nichols' story as a young man whose once-promising life is irrevocably derailed when the seeds of anger and bitterness planted in his heart bear an ugly crop of rage, murder and regret.  

During the seven providential hours that these two broken lives intersect in CAPTIVE, God shows up powerfully as Smith begins to read sections of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, to Nichols. Here, the message of CAPTIVE is that no sin is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace.  And we see that while we must all bear the consequences of our bad choices, God’s heart is to take that which Satan intends for evil and turn it around in ways that bring faith, hope, restoration, meaning and purpose to each person’s life.

Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships


CAPTIVE centers on the unfolding relationship between Smith and Nichols during the seven hours in which he held her hostage in her suburban Atlanta apartment. During the course of their time together, each increasingly comes to see the other in a new light as they begin to share their stories and Smith reads from The Purpose Driven Life to Nichols. Although the tension between them is palpable, there is also a poignant beauty and vulnerability in their relationship as they begin to relate to each other’s pain and brokenness and allow themselves to be transformed by God’s grace in their respective circumstances.

Other significant relationships depicted in CAPTIVE focus on Smith and her young daughter, Paige, whom she deeply loves and desires to regain custody of—motivating her to participate in a Christian recovery program. Here, Smith’s supportive and prayerful Aunt Kim takes care of Paige and encourages the six-year-old to pray for her mother.

And in Nichols’ life, we see that he has a praying mother and that his love for his newborn son is both deep and full of regret given the reality that he may never meet him face-to-face. 

Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations


While some faith-driven moviegoers may find the scenes in which Nichols murders four innocent people and steals several vehicles to be unsettling, CAPTIVE realistically shows what happened in a case that grabbed national headlines. Here, Nichols treats Smith violently in her apartment—to the point that it appears that he may rape her. And after he settles down, he pressures Smith to take drugs with him—a turning point for her in which she is empowered for the first time to say no to a life-dominating addiction and choose life over death.

Beyond these situations, some moviegoers will find that CAPTIVE’s depiction of Smith in skimpy clothing for the duration of the seven-hour hostage ordeal to be unnecessary. However, CAPTIVE commendably shows her crying out to God in the midst of her distress—as well as learning to walk in sobriety with the help of a Christian recovery group. 

Family Viewing Suitability


Rated PG-13 for themes including drug use, violence and murder, CAPTIVE deals with mature topics that require parental discretion for children aged 13 and younger. Despite this, the biblical message that it’s never too late to turn to God comes through clearly, and CAPTIVE offers an opportunity to share this truth with friends and family members alike. 

Entertainment Value


At 97 minutes in length, CAPTIVE offers a gripping story with a message of hope and redemption that will resonate well with both faith-driven and secular audiences.  In CAPTIVE, we see that no sin is too great for God to rescue us from and that each person’s life has meaning and purpose. The diverse cast delivers uniformly strong performances and supplemental footage of the real Ashley Smith meeting Rick Warren on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show adds dimension to the story.  In addition, uplifting Gospel music and an update on Smith’s ongoing leadership role in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian recovery group, offers encouragement to all who deal with life-dominating struggles.

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