Why you should watch Hostages?
A group of hooded criminals breaks into the house of a surgeon due to operate on the US president the following day, threatening her family if she doesn’t kill him.
An intriguing plot for a film, but is it enough to sustain Hostages a 15-part series TV series (adapted from an Israeli TV show, like Homeland)?
Actually, it is, because nothing in life is ever simple…
First, the plotters have to contend with Dr Ellen Sanders (played by Toni Collette), a Washington-based surgeon, who is tough, clever and resourceful. After all, she has risen to the top of a pressure-filled profession that requires a steady nerve as well as a steady hand, so anyone who underestimates her is going to find themselves on the back foot.
Not that the leader of the gang of hostage-takers is a slouch, either: Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) is a rogue FBI agent and has no shortage of resources himself.
Because Carlisle and his gang are not working alone: they are, it gradually emerges, part of a larger political conspiracy that even reaches into the White House itself.
And then there are other complications, not least of which are the rest of the Sanders family, all of whom have their own secrets. Ellen’s husband Brian (Tate Donovan), for example, is not only a businessman whose business is on the point of collapse, but he’s also carrying on an affair. And Duncan not only knows this, but is using it to force Brian to put pressure when Ellen is reluctant to kill her illustrious patient.
The Sanders’ teenage daughter Morgan also has a secret, one that requires her to lock herself in the bathroom with a pregnancy test.
And then there’s teenage son Jake, who has managed to get himself into hock with a violent drug dealer.
So there’s plenty of material to be getting on with there – especially as Ellen manages, at the end of episode one, to get the surgery postponed for a fortnight. How are Duncan and his team – all of whom, of course, also have issues of their own – going to keep the Sanders family in line for two weeks?
Who to look out for
Toni Collette has been a highly watchable actress since her breakthrough role in Muriel’s Wedding 20 years ago and is a fine choice as Ellen Sanders. She brings an inner strength to the role and watching her trying to outwit a conspiracy that is much bigger than her, while protecting her family, is one of Hostages’ most appealing plot strands.
By the same token, Dylan McDermott has a long and distinguished acting career, and some form in a role where he tries to kill the US president (he played an accomplice to the North Korean terrorists in last year’s Olympus Has Fallen). Here he brings a real complexity to the role of a desperate man “doing the wrong thing for the right reasons”.
Channel 4 is midway through the run, so there have already been plenty of plot twists – and there are many more to come.
Without revealing any plot points for those of you not up to date (you can catch up on 4oD), Duncan’s plan isn’t exactly going smoothly and Ellen is proving to be no pushover.
In fact, 15 hours might not be enough…