In a future dystopian society ruled by aliens, an underground rebel movement seeks to undermine the status quo.
“Captive State,” opening wide this weekend, operates on the premise that a secretive movement will always arise against tyranny. Toss in some aliens and a futuristic Chicago, as well as allusions to classic resistance movies, and you have a smart science fiction thriller that moves like a Costa-Gavras political thriller.
The process of directing a film with that paranoid atmosphere was tantamount for writer/director Rupert Wyatt.
“Science fiction is an amazing sand box to explore many genres of storytelling. My favorite authors in the science fiction realm are people like Philip K. Dick, who grounded their sci-fi and explored it within the context of a contemporary society,” says Wyatt to Byline Houston in a phone interview. “I’m intrigued by the political framework of our society — how people operate and how people govern.”
“Captive State” stars John Goodman as a collaborator with the aliens along with Ashton Sanders and Jonathan Majors as brothers who are part of the underground opposition movement. Wyatt keeps the pace constantly moving between action sequences as the rebels attempt to sabotage an alien gathering in a stadium.
Vera Farmiga, Kevin Dunn, Alan Ruck and Colson Baker play other supporting characters. Not everyone displays his or her true motives, at least not initially.
“As storytellers we wanted to put up a mirror to society of today, whether it’s America or the over-populated world. How does that work with the premise of an alien occupation? What kind of moral choices do you have to make?” asks Wyatt.
Wyatt recalls “The Battle of Algiers,” a 1966 war drama by Gillo Pontecorvo, as an inspiration for the intrigue in “Captive State.”
“I remember watching that when I was sixteen. That movie has followed me ever since,” he says.
Another film that influenced Wyatt was “Army of Shadows,” the Jean-Pierre Melville tale of the French resistance under Nazi occupation.
“To tell a hyper-narrative story with multiple characters and keep it under the surface like Melville did was a challenge,” says Wyatt.
While “Captive State” offers views of the aliens, it’s only towards the end where we see the entire creature.
“The ‘Jaws’ approach to not seeing the shark is of course a foundation of storytelling. It was a choice that we made at the end to actually see in close-up the face of the enemy,” says Wyatt.
“But also the point of this story is to tell who we are as human beings and how we are guided by our moral position,” he says. “I never set out to make a polemic, and the film was written before the current administration came to power. So it’s certainly not a liberal judgment against Trump.”
“In any government in a modern capitalist society, the responsibility of the people is to protect the environment, the world in which we live,” he says. “We are the custodians of this planet and we’re not doing a very good job. That plays a big part for me in this film.”
“Captive State” opens at area theaters this weekend.