Captive State: A Political Thriller Disguised as an Alien Invasion Movie

On its face, Captive State is an alien invasion movie with very few aliens. It takes place in occupied Chicago nine years after Earth surrendered to an invading species of aliens we call The Legislators. Rather than be annihilated, we accepted their rule and they brought world wide peace, increased economic disparity and a world wide drain on natural resources. The movie focuses on Collaborators who help The Legislators maintain control over the population, and dissidents who are trying to fight back without weapons, world wide communications and a world wide monitoring system that would make any authoritarian government and modern day spy green with envy. Forget satellites, every citizen is tagged with tracking systems, we have world wide CCTV and birds are now monitoring people. Those of you looking for alien battles and  special effects blitzes will be disappointed, but captive state is a brilliant political thriller that just happens to be set in a science fiction setting. Its commentary on conspiracy theories, fake news, overreaching government, economic disparity and the responsibility of citizenship was fantastic. Will everyone get it? NO! In fact in the theater I heard two couples leave the theater saying, and I quote, “I don’t get it, you mean he was ______?”

The comparison to today’s political arena was not picked up on by these viewers. If they could not follow the plot the rest of the movie was probpably lost on them. I wanted to weep. I do not think this film is for everyone, but it was an intelligent script with something to say. The actors gave an excellent performance and it was not a whitewashed cast! There was just enough alien action to qualify the movie as a science fiction film and enough drama to keep the mind active. The twist at the end,will suprise some people. It’s well done and it’s message, “you have to choose a side” is on point. “Long as we fight back we got a chance,” sit back and just complain and we deserve what we get.

John Goodman as always does an excellent job playing a weary investigator torn between helping his partners son and hunting down the disidents before they go after The Legislators again.  Jonathan Majors and Ashton Sanders play two brothers with diametric personalities. Rafe the older brother, played by Majors, believes everyone must fight for the good of all. Gabriel plays Ashton who is in it for himself and believes in taking care of your own first! As these three try to negotiate the turmoils which arise as the dissidents plan gets closer and closer to implementation, tensions rise and loyalties are questioned.


OK, so here is what I loved about this movie. Just as Zombie movies are used today in college courses to teach about political and cultural movements, this movie can be used to teach multiple subjects. The Legislators political power was a classic example of big government. A fear many people have today in this country. How far is the government impinging into our daily lives, how much control do they have. What do they have the right to monitor? The Legislators used methods we do not have, actual real bugs embedded in our throats that allowed the government to monitor where every citizen went and what they did. But many people worry about the government “bugging” our electronic devices and tracking our movements and activities. The first thing The Legislator did was to shut down the world wide web, cutting of global communication except through them. This cut us off and isolated the world into small pocket communities, except by dial-up. They also monitored all old social media accounts and gathered up all of our visual media to review. Why would they do this do you ask. Imagine what you learn by looking at the thousands of pictures and videos a person puts on their media accounts. You learn what they like, who they know and who they associate with. In this way you can figure out what groups of people may be working together. Intelligence gather at its finest. Paranoid yet? The Legislators also got rid off all weapons, making sure they were the most power full beings on the planet. An argument many NRA and gun rights advocates make against gun control. Oddly, without guns the dissidents are able to take down an entire alien facility. Perfect set up for arguing weather or not gun control legislation works. All of this was in the movie but I did not sit their thinking about it while I watched it, I just enjoyed it.It was not until after I saw the movie that I started thinking about everything. For days comparisons between this movie and our current state of affairs would just pop into my head. Am I thinking to deep into this film. Probably! But that’s the fun of it. Sometimes a movie just gets into you system and makes you think about more than the needle alien or the sound weapon they used. It has an impact.

The Legislators have set themselves apart from humans and limit access to only a chosen few. The only chance the disidents have now is to strike from within. Frontal assault on their facilities in the past has failed miserably. So by spreading conspiracy theories among the collaborators, using false leads and outright fake news they put one of their own into a position of power. A Trojan horse if you will. Their hope is a strike in Chicago will set off a world wide effort against The Legislators around the world. I won’t spoil anymore of the movie, you will just have to watch it.

Go see it now, bring a friend and prepare to discuss what you watched.

Captive State, PG 13
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors and Vera Farmiga
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Production Company: Participant Media, Amblin Partners

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