Documentary Review: Netflix`s “Captive” (2016 – ) ★★★★★

Captive (Courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix has earned the reputation of being the only movie provider who creates the best documentary films. Yes, despite every single filmmaker who can make history by telling the best, it’s Netflix that once again proves with Captive the importance of telling an urgent story that will equally disturb and amaze you at the same time.

The first episode of Captive has a meaningful and touching name Missioners. It takes us into the world of kidnapped people and their negotiators, and starts with American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham who were about to celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary in Phillipines’ Basilan. The cause, of course, was important enough, but unfortunately, was interrupted by the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf’s militant rebels who with the help of ransom money wanted to create an independent Islamic State.

In May 27th of 2001, Mary Jones, Gracia Burnham’s sister receives a call after 3 AM who already knew something bad was about to happen. And she was right. As soon as she finds out about the disturbing news, Mary Jones shares a crying experience that is hard to imagine. In the meantime, the viewer finds out about the third American who was kidnapped along with the Burnham couple, Guillermo Sobero, who was beheaded when the rebels did not get their money.

As you get an extended, but unpleasant look into the horrifying world of people kept in captive, Charles ‘Chuck’ Regini, the FBI Negotiator from 1998-2009 and Gen. Benjamin Magalong, a Special Action Force Commander share their experience of being negotiators and how sometimes it’s hopeless to negotiate with those for whom a human life costs not more than a penny. In the meantime, the ransom demanded was one million dollars, that was not so easy to acquire. While Gracia and Martin were still somewhere in the jungle waiting for the moment to be released, the world around them was changing in the worst way possible…

It was September 11, 2011 after the terrorist attacks in New York City, the CIA and US Government finally start getting more interested in Abu Sayyaf’s rebels and begin to declare war against terrorism. However, by the time when you get the chance to learn more about what really happens while Martin and Gracia were still out there, you realize sometimes even a second matters when it comes to dealing with saving a human life. And the price of the loss of a precious second can be much higher that none of us could afford paying…

In conclusion, Captive is a shocking documentary movie with some impressive archival footages. One can only wonder how the producers Doug Liman, Simon and Jonathan Chinn were able to obtain it. It’s emotional, revealing and important to be seen, as the unfortunate condition of abducted people by the terrorist groups is more dangerous than we could possibly comprehend. And getting back to George W. Bush saying that ‘no nation can negotiate with terrorists, for there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death’ is something we all could agree to.

In the end, what to do when you find yourself in the same situation that Guillermo Sobero, Gracia and Martin Burnham found themselves in? How should one act in order to escape captivity when your country refuses to negotiate with terrorists and there is no hope left? The answer to this question the Captive won’t ever answer… and it never aimed to do so. After all, all what we can do is keep ourselves safe in a world that sometimes seems like a little cage, where each and everyone tries to escape it….


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