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Sudden spike in crime stats

Published March 10, 2005

Bruce Willis warms up his trigger finger for next month's release of Sin City by starring in Hostage (R), a violent home invasion thriller in which you know a lot of people will die messy deaths.

Willis plays Jeff Talley, a former LAPD hostage negotiator whose last assignment left a child dead. Feeling guilty, Talley resigns to become police chief of a swanky California town where crime is rare. You know it won't be for long.

A wealthy accountant (Kevin Pollak) and his family are taken hostage by a trio of convenience store thieves escaping from a botched robbery. They don't know it, but the accountant is tied to organized crime, and he's hiding evidence that would incriminate a mobster. Talley's efforts to save the hostages and recover his professional pride are complicated when the mob kidnaps his wife and daughter as leverage to recover the evidence. Oh, and did I mention that someone in the mix is a serial killer?

Hostage wasn't screened in time for Weekend coverage. See Friday's paper for a review.

- STEVE PERSALL, Times film critic

"Passion" resurrected in "Recut"

Back by popular demand for the Easter season is Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, retitled The Passion Recut. Also by popular demand from squeamish believers, Gibson has trimmed nearly six minutes of the original version's torture violence and substituted different camera angles to show less gore.

The new version is still violent enough for the MPAA to give it an R rating. Gibson and Newmarket Films disagreed, and decided to release The Passion Recut unrated. It's opening Friday on between 500 and 750 screens nationwide. That's about one-quarter of average distribution for a new movie. The weekend box office results will be interesting if The Passion Recut attracts viewers with the same fervor as last year's original release.

With less violence, moviegoers may better appreciate Jim Caviezel's moving portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth and the performances of several other actors, especially Maia Morgenstern as his mother, Mary. Her heartbreaking, nearly wordless performance was sadly forgotten amid awards season hoopla. Caleb Deschanel's cinematography earned a deserved Oscar nomination, but Gibson's refusal to play the campaigning game damaged his chances to win. Other nominations went to John Debney's eerie music and Caviezel's grisly makeup, much of which hit the editing room floor for Recut.

- S.P.

[Last modified March 10, 2005, 10:38:34]

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