How long, O LORD? Wilt thou forget me for ever?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Bruce Willis, so adept at portraying heroic angst, is in top form in this bloody thriller that poses the question in its ads, “Would you sacrifice another family to save your own?” No one should be under the kind of pressure that Willis’ Jeff Talley undergoes. After botching a hostage crisis situation (a mother and young son are killed) earlier, Talley has left Los Angeles to head a small police force in a sleepy town far from the big city. However, we know that when he checks in to work, declaring that this is “Low Crime Monday,” we know that something bad is going to happen within the next minute or two.
It does when a trio of young punks follows a teenage girl who has just snubbed them. They break into her fortress-like house built around a mountaintop and proceed to rough up her father and young brother. The policewoman who comes in answer to the silent alarm is shot dead, and Talley is again up to his neck in crisis. He gladly turns over the operation to the county sheriff, but is forced to resume command when a mysterious army posing as federal agents kidnaps his own wife and daughter, threatening their lives if he does not cooperate. He is supposed to manage to enter the house and sneak out a computer disk that contains sensitive corporate financial transactions. It seems that the hostage father Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) is the accountant handling the illegal laundering of huge sums of money for a shadowy organization. Thus Talley has two volatile gangs to deal with—the trio of thugs led by an unstable leader, and the sinister organization whose plans have been disrupted by the thugs.
How Talley, aided by the young hostage Tommy Smith (Jimmy Bennett), who manages to cut his bonds and sneak into the elaborate duct system of the high-tech house, makes for exciting, very suspenseful viewing. I wish the denouement wasn’t so bloody, however. The boy is a very appealing character, and in the hands of different filmmakers, the film could have become a thrilling family film. Not in its present form, unless it is the Addams family.