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Held Hostage
Held Hostage (2009)
  • Director:
    Grant Harvey
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Michelle Renee,James Kearns
  • Cast:
    Julie Benz,Brendan Penny,Natasha Calis
  • Time:
    1h 26min
  • Year:
Michelle a single mother is kidnapped by three masked men and held hostage until she is forced to rob a bank which is the only option she has to saving her only child's life while they are both wired to explode.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Julie Benz Julie Benz - Michelle Estey
Brendan Penny Brendan Penny - Chris Clark
Natasha Calis Natasha Calis - Breea Estey
Tom Carey Tom Carey - Dave Estey
Michelle Harrison Michelle Harrison - Rose
Jason Schombing Jason Schombing - Carlos Martinez
Dalias Blake Dalias Blake - Reggie
Jeff Pangman Jeff Pangman - Joe
Bruce McGill Bruce McGill - Ben Summers
Dean Marshall Dean Marshall - Leland
Linda Sorensen Linda Sorensen - Dr. Morse
Sonja Bennett Sonja Bennett - Sandi Clark
Gary Jones Gary Jones - Walter
Danny Wattley Danny Wattley - Hershey
Michael Puttonen Michael Puttonen - Judge

Held Hostage (2009)

Notable variations from the actual crime: 1) There was an adult female roommate that was also kidnapped. 2) The majority of the money was never recovered. Only $93,000 of the $360,000 stolen was recovered. 3) The suspects were two black males, and a Hispanic male and female. 4) The principal male suspect was acquitted of the kidnapping charge against Michelle Renee, but convicted for the other people.

Females in jeopardy: At about 10 minutes in, Michelle and her daughter are assaulted and kidnapped by three home invaders. This is opposite from the usual Lifetime movie scenario where the female is in jeopardy within the last 10 minutes.

Based upon the book of the same title by Michelle Renee, it was also featured in 48 Hours: Show Me the Money (2009).

Michelle Renee, author of the book from which this was based, has a cameo appearance as a teller.

Canadian films have a tendency, when they're of better ilk, to still have no real star-power in and of themselves, and of course, being a made for t.v. movie, more often, that is the best you can hope for. That being said, this is a fairly decent movie. It more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do, and it's message, quite well delivered in the ending with the juxtaposition of the victim, and the kidnapper, both having come from troubled backgrounds, yet both ending on opposite sides of the law as a result of inner strength, shines through rather poignantly.

All in all, the film carries with it a sense of realism and plausibility, though of course, there are ways that it could have been better. Personally I think the hostage taking scenes needed to be more brutal and traumatic since after all, the end of the film has a statement saying "The real life woman who this is based on is working to promote awareness for violence against women and children." WHAT violence... WHAT abuse... As someone who is not particularly sympathetic to the feminist bend of this film, which of course indirectly implies that violence against men is alright, as a viewer I don't feel THAT bad for the protagonist if all she's suffered was being yelled at for a few hours, and even being a made for t.v. movie shouldn't limit this.

One highly positive thing about the film is that it was so well cast. Brendan Penny, the lead kidnapper is a rather interesting character. I worked with him incidentally in a scene on the show "Whistler". He comes across as someone who pursues acting because he genuinely loves it in all it's craft, which is rather refreshing, and that trademark bizarre bitter sardonic rage filled presence he seems to regularly bring to the screen with him, is quite well placed in this film. Julie Benz, while possibly coming across as annoying to some ALSO fits the bill, because realistically if you imagine the character of a reformed stripper, THAT is exactly how they would be, at least in my mind, though unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if she came across this way in most of the films she's been in.

After the criminal deed is done and finished with, the remaining half of the film is dedicated to presenting how harsh the legal process can be on victims, and why many find it hard to face. It is indeed a point worthy of stressing, though it is done in a way that comes across as slightly tedious. In essence, the directing, and the exemplification of the character's emotions shows lack of artistry. The court scene was overdramatised to the point of being a bit of a farce. The amount of balls that the defence attorney would have to have to present his defence would have to be quite immense, shamelessly dragging the protagonist through the mud and alleging that everything was planned entirely by her, and that she forced his client to go along with it when he had a mountain of evidence against his client, including the dozen prior bank robbery convictions, the fact that none of the recovered money was found in the possession of the protagonist, not to mention forced entry of the house. But in the end, he may have just been a dumb, arrogant, overly ambitious lawyer, as may have been emphasized when he had the audacity to object to the closing statements of the victim.

A decent film overall in terms of being solidly put together. Not over the top to the point of being unrealistic, though it brings nothing new, interesting, or shocking to the table either. At the same time, Assuming the reader has no general prejudices, I can't think of a reason for them to not watch it.
If you're a movie fan you've seen a lot of thrillers. Have you ever wondered how the people cope emotionally afterwards? This movie tries to answer that question. Julie Benz, single mother of a little girl, is a bank manager who is targeted by bank robbers. They break into her home, hold her girl hostage, tape dynamite to her, and send her to grab the bank's money. And after they leave, that's where the movie starts.

There are two major problems with this movie that stop it from being more than potentially excellent. The first problem is that the first twenty minutes run out exactly like half a dozen big screen thrillers, but without much in the way of more than adequate camera work. There is nothing to draw you terribly into the movie in the first twenty minutes with its seen-it-all-before techniques. By the time this sequence is finished, I was ready to not like the rest of the movie, and it never gave me much of an incentive to change my mind.

The second is that there is no real sense of who Ms. Benz's character, Michelle Estey, actually is. She is never more than a sketch. After spending more than an hour with her -- months from her character's viewpoint -- one should know more.

One minor flaw makes this movie even worse: the music score. It is obtrusive, obvious in its direction and annoying.

Although HELD HOSTAGE makes an attempt to examine the aftermath of a terrifying situation, its ham-handed handling makes it a poor movie.
A woman and her daughter are held hostage because she happens to be the bank manager of a regional branch office for some important bank. After having dynamite strapped to her chest, she is sent in to retrieve the money... but will her co-workers and police believe she is just an innocent bystander?

This is the fictionalized version of what really happened to Michelle Renee. How much is accurate, I do not know. Clearly the film is modified from the book, and the book may have been modified from actual events to make them more interesting for people. Certainly, not everything presented happened as depicted.

Most obviously, for me, was what I call the "fake defense". I do not believe for a second that the prosecutor or the judge would allow the defense attorney to badger the witness, or pursue the line of questioning he did. Where were the objections? Also, unless you're a really greasy lawyer, you wouldn't pursue a defense that you most likely know to be false.

This film is very much like a Lifetime movie, with victimized women becoming strong. Maybe it was from Lifetime, I don't know. I have it on DVD, but it was on TV originally, so Lifetime is as good a place as any for it. Do I recommend this film? In a word, no.
This is a film that can't quite make up its mind what it wants to be: crime thriller, personal voyage, psychological drama...but as it is a true story or at least based on one, allowance should be made for that. Only the surname of the principal character has been changed, and as there is no real romance angle, she can't really be called a leading lady.

Michelle has had a hard life, but after running away from home and working as an exotic dancer, she lands a job in a bank, and is now managing it, the hard pressed single mother of a daughter, when her life comes crashing down around her ears. Her home is invaded, her daughter tied up and gagged, while she is forced to rob her own bank under threat of being blown to kingdom come. She goes through with it, but although the good news is that the dynamite was not real, the bad news is that she is now less a victim than a suspect.

When the gang are caught, the ringleader decides to shift the lion's share of the blame onto her. How bad can it get? Obviously not that bad or the real Michelle would not have written the book of the same title on which this film is based.

Don't expect too much from "Held Hostage", but it is certainly watchable.
Despite an excellent defense by the thief who is obviously guilty, this is basically a film that succeeds because it deals quite well with how a victim is harassed.

A woman with a questionable past, who made something of herself, is forced to take money out of a bank by 3 robbers who allegedly tie both her and her daughter with dynamite. Yes, they look like suicide bombers.

Despite enduring a horrible experience, when the thieves are found, they turn the tables on our lady and accuse her of plotting the robbery with them. The wife of the major thief goes even further in stating that her husband was romantically involved with her husband.

As stated, the film is good because it deals with what victims have to go through as well as the never ending suspicion and even harassment by the police.