CAPTIVE STATE (2019) expertly pairs a thriller plot with a setting of a world occupied by hostile aliens. It’s a largely plot-driven story with some interesting allusions to late-stage capitalism, with steadily building tension and a nice twist.
In the future, aliens arrive and win a short, horrific war before the nations of Earth unconditionally surrender and disband their armed forces. In each major city, “legislators” live underground and rule through an elite class of human collaborators living the high life and promised salvation once the aliens suck the planet dry of resources and ruin its environment for good. Living in a heavy surveillance state, a resistance network aims to strike a critical blow against the aliens, hoping to spark a worldwide revolt.
The film is fast-paced, the setting suitably gray and dystopian, the world building involving aliens brutally squeezing Earth well drawn and appearing gritty and lived-in. A great ensemble of actors–including John Goodman, James Ransome, Jonathan Majors, Alan Ruck, and Kevin Dunn–brings the story to life. The story is a little disjointed–you think you’re going in one direction, and then it takes an abrupt turn before turning back–but the accelerating pace and terrific payoff bring it all together nicely for a very satisfying finish.
Overall, CAPTIVE STATE is striking and clever while being utterly convincing with its gritty world building. I liked this one a lot.