BUY FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Lifetime Home Video
MSRP: $12.16 (sort of)
RUNNING TIME: 180 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Nope
Tough but sensitive cop sacrifices his personal and professional lives to bring a brutal killer to justice.
Directed by Norma Bailey. Starring Tom Cavanagh, Amy Davidson, James Russo, Currie Graham, Sharon Lawrence, and that guy from Buffy and Smallville.
As seen through the eyes of a fictitious victim, we watch dedicated Seattle homicide detective Dave Reichert spend twenty years of his life tracking down serial prostitute killer Gary Leon Ridgway. Along the way, he contends with a nagging wife, an unsympathetic news media, a frightened public, and the typical asshole boss every dedicated TV cop gets saddled with. (Interesting side note: I’m currently preparing to review the first season of the short-lived legal drama Raising the Bar, in which the actor pictured below plays… you guessed it… another asshole boss. Coincidence, I swear).
It’s been a while since I’ve watched one of these Lifetime Original Movies. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure they were still making them. A recent visit to my grandma’s house (coupled with a cursory glance at Wikipedia) reveals that I was wrong, however. Apparently the genre is still alive and kicking.
For those unfamiliar with the genus, these films tend to fall into one of two or three different categories: “women in danger” stories (usually involving a tough but feminine lady contending with a stalker, psycho ex-husband, buy-one-get-one-free sale, handsy co-worker who won’t take a hint, or some other female-specific threat), low-budget adaptations of cutrate suspense novels (think Dean Koontz or Mary Higgins Clark… Stephen King and James Patterson are too cool to hang out in this low-rent neighborhood), and Based on a True Story/’Ripped from the Headlines!’ type fare like this one. In fact, dramatizations of high-profile serial killer cases used to be a virtual subgenre unto themselves, with the likes of Ted Bundy, the Hillside Stranglers, and BTK getting the treatment over the years. So Capture is in good (or at least abundant) company.
Movies like this are kind of odd… for many reasons really, but mostly because while they’re presented as whodunits, anyone with even a passing interest in the subject matter is more than likely going to know who the killer is going in, thus rendering the obligatory false leads and other red herrings pointless. This film, in particular, spends a puzzling amount of time on a suspect who fails a polygraph, hates prostitutes, spouts pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo, and even fits the FBI profile (provided by a smarmy Criminal Minds reject who, apart from being a walking cliche, also has the balls to get caught using a cell phone at one point, which is odd considering the bulk of the film takes place in the early ’80s).
Tom Cavanaugh (of Ed fame) turns in a serviceable performance as Reichert, the quintessential male hero… or, at least, the quintessential male hero as conceived by a network whose primary audience apparently consists of elderly folks and housewives who’ve finally gotten bored with the soaps. Dave is caring and attentive to his wife (but not needy), dedicated to the point of near-obsession (but not creepy), tough enough to stand up against guys like Gary (but not so tough as to be above having a good cry now and then).
The film’s most questionable creative decision is its narrator, a fictionalized Green River victim named Hel who appears to be telling the story from beyond the grave. I remember watching a movie about the Martha Moxley murder case a few years back that used a similar device. On the one hand, I think it’s a good idea to humanize the victims by devoting a large chunk of the film’s running time to one of them. And I can understand the decision to go with a fictitious victim, so as to avoid taking liberties with the life of an actual person. I can even deal with the implied supernatural elements involved (though it gets a bit heavy-handed when she starts talking about hanging out in the afterlife with other serial killer victims). I think it was a mistake to bring Dave and Hel together, though. She essentially becomes the personification of Reichert’s conscience over the course of the movie, which (among other things) leads to the aforementioned maudlin crying scene. This is the kind of melodrama that no doubt appeals to Lifetime‘s core fans, but is going to be off-putting to most viewers.
Made-for-TV movies are not exactly known for their artistic daring or stylistic flourishes, and the editing, music, and overall look of the film are as flat and uninteresting as you might imagine. They at least take a shot at thematic complexity, though, with the most obvious example being a running commentary about fate vs. coincidence: Reichert only catches the Green River case because he happens to pick up the phone at the right time, Hel only drifts into a life of drugs and prostitution because her mom happens to work late one night (leaving her at the mercy of her mom’s skeazy live-in boyfriend), the killer’s victims die because they got into the wrong car, and so on. There’s also some psuedo-spiritual stuff that isn’t really developed much, as Dave agonizes over “how God could let this happen” and what have you. A homicide detective hasn’t asked himself these questions before? Still, points for effort and all that.
Literally nothing to report. They could have at least thrown in a documentary or something.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars