Review: ‘Default’ a hostage thriller that demands little attention


“Default” tosses plenty of buzzworthy ideas into the mix, but at its heart it’s a run-of-the-mill hostage thriller, spruced up as found footage with Somali pirates.

Four Somalis hijack a charter plane in Seychelles and hold hostage an American crew doing some “60 Minutes”-style reportage for a cable news network. Among them: has-been star journalist Frank Saltzman (Greg Callahan).

The pirates’ initial demand is rather unusual. They want the network to air Saltzman interviewing the pirates’ apparent mastermind, Atlas (David Oyelowo). This momentarily gets your hopes up that the film might not resort to clichés after all, but then quickly those hopes are dashed when the pirates start demanding ransom money too.


This is a genre exercise, so there’s little character development. Director Simon Brand devotes so much running time to fear-mongering and grotesque stereotypes that a last-ditch effort at moral ambiguity and a critique on muckraking barely register.


No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.