So many movies have been made about people in witness protection and then being found out by the bad guys they are supposed to be protected from. The stories usually turn into some kind of action/thriller where a ton of people are getting killed so some bad ass FBI agent comes in and saves the day or the person who is supposed to be protected does the ass kicking. The 2012 movie Hiding took the story of a person in witness protection but did not make it as predictable as a story like this could be.
Alicia Torres (Ana Villafañe) is being relocated to a small town in Montana through the Witness Protection Program by an Agent Noah Carter (seriously, he is Agent Carter… well, not my favorite Agent Carter, if you know what I mean). She is to go by the name Josephine Russo and she is not allowed to make contact with anyone from her former life including her grandmother and friends or even be able to paint and draw like she used to or even speak Spanish. Alicia, or Jo as she will now be referred to, is placed into the home of a social worker named Debbie. Debbie has a daughter named Lucy who is the same age as Jo. Jo is not used to people being so nice she is used to the hustle and bustle of New York and people having attitudes. Throughout the movie she has flashbacks to her old life in New York with her parents who were killed and who’s murders she witnessed.
Jo begins school the following day. She is almost immediately hit on by the football team captain Brett (Jeremy Sumpter). His hitting on Jo causes his ex-girlfriend Zoe to become extremely jealous. Zoe approaches Jo to try to intimidate her but that does not work so well because Jo gives her a big old New York attitude right back and stands up for Lucy who was with her. Jo standing up to her makes Zoe super pissed so she starts looking into Jo to try to get some dirt on her.
While walking down the hallway, Jo passes by the art room. She goes into the room lured in by her passion. In the art room is a kid named Jesse (Tyler Blackburn) who is working on a painting of the Chicago skyline. They are both drawn towards each other (haha art pun). Jesse is the smart, thoughtful, talented guy compared to Brett who knows he can get whomever and whatever he wants with his stupid charm.
One-day Jo realizes it is her grandmother’s birthday and asks Debbie to send her grandmother some flowers. That backfires when a man simply known as Mr. Ostrog is sent to find Alicia for the man who killed her parents. Mr. Ostrog tracks down Alicia’s grandmother through the high school she attended when he poses as someone who wants to set up a scholarship in Alicia’s name. At the nursing home where the grandmother is Mr. Ostrog finds the flowers from Jo that were sent through a flower shop in New Jersey. By contacting the flower shop Mr. Ostrog finds out the order was placed by Debbie in Montana.
Meanwhile, back in Montana, Zoe has a student obtain Jo’s school transcripts and records. She cannot find a trace of Jo online. To try to get Brett back, Zoe tells him she looked into the school Jo was supposed to have transferred from in Seattle and that she is nowhere in their records. This does not bother Brett at all, in fact he tells Zoe to back off.
Mr. Ostrog comes to Montana. He tracks Alicia down to the high school and even manages to bump into her outside the school. After that encounter he starts stalking her from his car. Of course Jo notices she is being followed, Ostrog is not that good at being inconspicuous. Since she cannot have a cell phone where she can possibly be traced, Jo uses the school phone to get in touch with Agent Carter (hahahaha) to tell her she thinks she is being followed. As she is waiting for Carter to call back she sketches out the guy she bumped into outside the school and faxes it to Carter. In her panic Jo asks Brett for the keys to his truck and his cell phone. Before Jo can even get in the truck Mr. Ostrog comes from behind and chloroforms her.
Mr. Ostrog takes Jo to a cabin in the middle of the woods (soooooooooooooo clichéd). He has her tied to a chair and of course Jo manages to be a bad ass and run away and then of course she is caught by the bad guy and of course the hero Agent Carter comes in and shoots Mr. Ostrog before he can kill Jo.
In the end everything is great. Carter tells Alicia that just as long as she can keep quiet and not cause another scene she can stay where she is which makes her very happy.
The only reason I even heard of Hiding is because of Ana Villafañe. Last week I got to see Villafañe in the Broadway show On Your Feet where she plays Gloria Estefan. The girl is ridiculously talented! I enjoyed her performance so much. She is a stunning singer and excellent actress. In the Playbill under her bio some of her TV and Film work was listed and Hiding was one of them. Naturally, I was curious to see Villafañe in something else since she was so amazing live in front of me on stage. Her acting in Hiding was so good. Jo was supposed to be a tough New Yorker girl and that is exactly what Villafañe played. You believed she was from NYC and had a fabulous tough girl NYC attitude. I would love to see her in more movies and shows down the road… maybe if On Your Feet gets turned into a movie? I mean, come on the girl is a clone of Gloria Estefan AND she can act on camera so well.
The rest of the cast was alright. Jeremy Sumpter was so damn creepy! He looked like a psycho killer and stalker. I do not think I have ever seen him in something else before this and I am perfectly fine with this being the only Sumpter movie I ever see. Tyler Blackburn was good. I liked his character so much better than Sumpter’s and his acting was way better.
The story was not too bad. The only thing to me that really brought the movie and story down was the storyline with the popular girls and Zoe. That was a good macguffin to think that Zoe had something to do with getting Mr. Ostrog on the path to finding Alicia/Jo. The actresses who played the popular girls were terrible. Some of the story was totally clichéd but since I like Villafañe so much and the fact that the story was not the worst I was able to look past the clichés and enjoy it.
Hiding was a decent movie. I was just so happy to see Ana Villafañe in a movie and to see that she truly a very talented actress. As much as the story was clichéd in some areas there were differences that makes it a bit of a stand out in Witness Protection-themed movies. The ending was left open ended. It did not just end, not all the bad guys were caught. Well, to me it could have been both open ended and just finished because the focus was on this one guy looking for her and not a whole bunch of other people. I liked open ended/ambiguous endings like that because it lets you kind of create a story of what happened next. If you can find Hiding I recommend giving it a watch.