The Captor Review: Unraveling Stockholm Syndrome

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Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace Shine in The Captor: A Dark Comedy Unveiling the Stockholm Syndrome

The Captor is a captivating dark comedy that sheds light on the intriguing 1973 Swedish bank heist and hostage crisis, which gave rise to the term “Stockholm Syndrome.” Executive producer Jason Blum, known for his talent in bringing absurd but true stories to the screen, once again explores a socially relevant yet hard-to-believe narrative. From the Oscar-winning thriller Get Out to the remarkable tale of BlacKkKlansman, Blumhouse Productions has consistently delivered thought-provoking stories, and The Captor is no exception.

The Improbable True Story of the Stockholm Syndrome

In 1973, Jan-Erik Olsson, an escaped convict, walked into Sveriges Kreditbank’s main office in Stockholm, taking four hostages and orchestrating the delivery of his friend, Clark Olofsson, from the Norrköping penitentiary. For six days, Olsson and Olofsson held the hostages captive inside the bank, while waiting for the police to provide them with money and a getaway car. Amidst this improbable event, it was the behavior of the hostages that truly astonished observers.

The four employees—cashier Elisabeth Oldgren, longtime employee Birgitta Lundblad, stenographer Kristin Ehnmark, and junior employee Sven Säfström—defied expectations by forming unexpected bonds with their captors. As negotiations unfolded, the hostages even took the side of the outlaws, turning against the authorities. Psychologists later termed this phenomenon the “Stockholm Syndrome,” but the fascination with this improbable event persists to this day.

The Captivating Narrative of The Captor

The film The Captor, directed by Robert Budreau, offers viewers the chance to witness the unfolding events of the bank heist, starting from the moment Lars Nystrom (played by Ethan Hawke) steps foot into Kreditbank. Budreau skillfully crafts a story that introduces and develops the characters, allowing the audience to connect with them on a deep level.

The foundation of the film lies in the undeniable chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace, who portrays a strong-minded woman named Bianca. Hawke’s portrayal of Lars Nystrom, a slightly unstable yet oddly charming criminal with a soft heart, is nothing short of exceptional. Meanwhile, Rapace delivers a flawless performance as a woman who, despite her initial resolve, inexplicably forms a connection with her captor, leading her to take unexpected actions that ultimately make sense in the end.

As new characters enter the narrative and existing characters form unexpected bonds, the dynamics between them evolve, offering viewers a deeper understanding of their motivations. At the beginning of the film, questions linger about the criminal’s intentions, but with the arrival of his inmate friend Gunnar, different facets of his personality begin to emerge. It becomes evident that Lars is not as unreasonable as initially believed, and the bank heist takes on elements of a surprising road trip. Additionally, Lars displays an unanticipated protectiveness towards the hostages.

Time seems to stand still inside the bank, unaffected by the presence of police officers and the threatening phone calls received by both the captors and the captives. This slower passage of time allows for a series of unlikely yet believable situations that add humor and emotion to the narrative. The resulting tone is entertaining and engaging, never veering into unnecessary dramatization.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of The Captor

The Captor thrives on the strength of its performances, particularly the chemistry between Hawke and Rapace. Their portrayal of complex characters draws viewers in, creating a genuine emotional investment in their fate. The film’s darkly comedic moments, captivating characters, and catchy music contribute to its overall success.

However, The Captor struggles to establish a clear direction, uncertain of whether it wants to be a psychological exploration or a true-to-life representation of the events. Although the opening scene hints at exploring into the Stockholm Syndrome, this theme is not fully explored. As a result, the film misses an opportunity to explore the psychological aspects that make the Stockholm Syndrome so intriguing.

Nevertheless, The Captor remains an entertaining and well-executed film. The witty dialogue, engaging characters, and introduction to an intriguing subject matter leave viewers yearning to learn more. It serves as a stepping stone for further exploration, prompting audiences to explore the true story behind the film. Ethan Hawke’s compelling performance and Noomi Rapace’s raw portrayal ensure that The Captor is a movie worth watching.

The Captor: Official Trailer


The Captor offers a gripping take on the infamous Swedish bank heist and hostage crisis of 1973. With stellar performances from Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace, the film effectively brings to life the unlikely and thought-provoking phenomenon known as the Stockholm Syndrome. While it may falter in its clear direction at times, The Captor, with its blend of humor, engaging characters, and captivating narrative, is sure to entertain audiences and spark a curiosity to explore the true events that inspired it.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Stockholm Syndrome?

The Stockholm Syndrome refers to a psychological phenomenon where hostages develop an emotional bond with their captors. It got its name from the 1973 Swedish bank heist that occurred in Stockholm.

2. Is The Captor based on a true story?

Yes, The Captor is based on the remarkable true story of the 1973 Swedish bank heist and hostage crisis. The film offers a fictionalized account of the events that took place during this infamous incident.

3. Who are the main actors in The Captor?

The Captor features notable performances from Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace, who play the roles of Lars Nystrom (the captor) and Bianca (one of the hostages) respectively.

4. Where can I watch The Captor?

The Captor was released in cinemas and on Digital HD on June 21, 2019. You may also find it available on various streaming platforms or DVD/Blu-ray.

5. Are there any recommended resources to learn more about the Stockholm Syndrome or the 1973 Swedish bank heist?

For a deeper understanding, you can start by reading Daniel Lang’s article titled “The Bank Drama” in The New Yorker, which provides valuable insights into the events that unfolded during the Swedish bank heist of 1973.