Film Captive

Kate Mara and David Oyelowo in "Captive."

I have waited such a long time for another outstanding film with a faith-based theme. “Captive” was well worth the wait.

This true-crime docudrama doesn’t preach. It doesn’t stoop to sugar-coating what really happened (this is justifiably rated PG-13 — be forewarned that you will see murders and drug abuse occur onscreen.) Its dialogue is smart and believable, delivered by incredible performers and directed by a pro.

This film stands head and shoulders above the low-quality, amateurish fare which, in recent years, has been thrown to underserved Christian audiences. “Captive” is a movie about a ghastly crime and its aftermath that can be enjoyed by all teens-and-older audiences, even those with no walk of faith.

The story of convicted murderer Brian Nichols and how he met Ashley Smith is true. And the talented leads David Oyelowo (“Selma”) as Nichols and Kate Mara (“127 Hours”) as Smith are marvelous in giving their characters depth and helping the audience understand what transpired in 2005 in Georgia.

The first scene shows Nichols escaping on his way to court. He murders and injures multiple people, some obviously with intent and some seemingly because they happened to be in his way.

Meanwhile, Smith is struggling. She is a meth user who simply can’t stop. She has lost custody of her adorable daughter, and is just about to lose her job at a restaurant, where she is perpetually late because of her disorganized life and unreliable car.

Smith is a woman at loose ends whose life continues to unravel. She has moved into an apartment, where she plans a visit with her daughter. Boxes are stacked up all around. While she begins to unpack and put up photos, she can’t help indulge in a little more meth.

The manhunt for Nichols, who has stolen a car, continues. Because of constant news coverage, Nichols knows what law-enforcement officials are planning. He encounters Smith in a parking lot, and takes her hostage inside her apartment.

What occurs involves a copy of the Rev. Rick Warren’s best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life,” some quick thinking on Smith’s part and the unpredictable nature of a killer.

The theme of redemption runs deeply throughout this film. Veteran television director Jerry Jameson never exploits the turn of events involving the book, nor does he play up the violence.

Watch the emotions he brings out of his actors, particularly after Nichols and Smith have been in the apartment together for some time. Jameson wisely chooses a kind of real-life tribute as the finale.

You’ll be held captive by this compelling movie.