There are weirder ways to sell books than this – but not many. In 2005, convicted rapist Brian Nichols (played here by David Oyelowo) broke out of an Atlanta courthouse, shot four people and ultimately took shelter in the home of Ashley Smith (Kata Mara), a local waitress and crystal meth addict. Throughout her ordeal, Smith read to Nichols from ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, a bestselling Christian self-help manual penned by evangelical preacher Rick Warren. Seven hours later (spoiler alert!) Nichols gave himself up to the police, according to Smith – and this dubious recreation – because of lessons he took from Warren’s book.
As a film, ‘Captive’ isn’t terrible – but as propaganda, it feels decidedly icky. Oyelowo and Mara add weight and truthfulness to thinly written roles, and the entire piece feels grubbily convincing, if hardly gripping. But the lurking suspicion that the entire film has been made to publicise a book written by a staunchly traditional, creationist, anti-gay-marriage Bible thumper feels manipulative in the extreme. Warren even turns up in person for the closing clip, sharing Oprah’s couch with the real-life Smith like some kind of evangelical Spider-man in a Marvel movie end-credits sting. Well, he’s probably a superhero to some.