What are critics saying about 'Captive,' based on Brian Nichols' crime spree?

"Captive," starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara, opened in metro Atlanta theaters today and depicts a fictionalized version of several very real hours in the life of Ashley Smith Robinson (Mara).

Robinson was taken hostage in her Duluth home by Brian Nichols (Oyelowo), who killed four people while fleeing a Fulton County courthouse. "Captive" traces their relationship, the background of their lives, and the faith that ultimately united them.

The morning after taking her hostage, Nichols peacefully surrendered to authorities — in part because of Robinson.

Here's a look at what critics, who seem split on the strengths of the plotting, if not the acting, are saying about the film:

"The film, directed with verve and tension by Jerry Jameson, is at its best when focusing on Brian, panicked and intense, and Ashley, wan and hardened by life, and the common ground they share." From Katie Walsh's review in the Los Angeles Times.

"Emphasizing qualities like compassion, hope, grace and spiritual introspection ... Jameson and scribe Brian Bird offer up a more inspired — if not exactly artful — alternative in the burgeoning faith genre." From Geoff Berkshire's review in Variety.

"Though much of the drama is clunky and flat, the taut, visceral performances by David Oyelowo and Kate Mara never err." From Sheri Linden's review in The Hollywood Reporter.

"Oyelowo and Mara achieve terrific chemistry. Perhaps they'll work together again — in a better film." From Calvin Wilson's review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Part of the problem is that, like so many other mainstream films that treat the issue of religion and religious epiphanies, the story glosses over the religion part." From Bilge Ebiri's review in New York.

"A credit-sequence television clip of Mr. Warren and the real Ms. Smith with Oprah Winfrey makes the entire movie feel like the strangest book infomercial in memory." From Nicolas Rapold's review in the New York Times.

"For a story whose appeal hinges on the saving grace of getting a 'purpose-driven life,' this one's got remarkably little of it." From Sara Stewart's review in the New York Post.

More Atlanta movie coverage at Jennifer Brett's blog