As I feared, "Held Hostage" has "made-for-Lifetime movie" written all over it "? and somewhat literally in the first scene, with cheap, superimposed credits that are the telltale sign.

"Dexter" wife Julie Benz portrays Michelle Estey, former stripper and current single mom whose happy days as a bank executive "? meeting with mortgage clients, awarding Sea World passes to employee of the month "? come crashing down when she's "recruited" for a one-time job. One of her would-be "clients" (Brendan Penny) later dons a mask and breaks into her home, duct-tapes her daughter (Natasha Calis) and gives Michelle an ultimatum: Rob your own bank, give me the money, or you'll never see lil' Breea again.

Michelle has no choice to disagree, especially when he has her remove her pink blouse (no need to go looking for nude clips, Mr. Skin) so he can strap remote-control explosives underneath it. After she does as she's told, her real troubles begin, because the authorities, led by Bruce McGill, think she was in on the whole thing as a co-conspirator. Seems like just the thing former strippers do, y'know "? that seems to be the basis for their case.

The film is just as flimsy, which should not surprise anyone who's suffered through the cable outlet's original programming "? competently shot, but wholly lacking narrative spark. The one thing it doesn't lack is predictability; even without knowing the deets of the true story on which this was based, you'll know how it ends well before it does.

Benz is a good actress in these maternal roles "? just not when said roles are the central one. Had I known beforehand this flick was Lifetime fare, I wouldn't have watched. Don't fall for the cover quote that reads, "Riveting ... a white-knuckle thrill ride," because "? lo and behold "? it's not attributed to anyone. "?Rod Lott

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