CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Prisoners.
Prisoners is an all-star production part thriller suspense and drama. It stars Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover and Maria Bello as his wife Gracie alongside their best friends Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis).
After Thanksgiving dinner at the Birches’, the two couples daughters Anna and Joy run a quick toy searching errand to the Dover’s house. When the girls come up missing the movie gets well underway. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as detective Loki who is the lead investigator assigned to the case of the disappearance.
The first main suspect is apparent manchild Alex Jones (Paul Dano) who lives with his aunt (Melissa Leo). Lots of circumstantial evidence points to Alex, but there’s nothing concrete about the case against him. So when he’s released from custody, the inner rage of Keller Dover is released along with him.
Dover takes matters into his own hands in order to try and get information out of Alex and find the location of the girls before it is too late. He does things most parents would want to do, but would stop short of. And that is precisely the predicament that Franklin and Nancy find themselves in When Dover tells them what he’s done – And even shows them.
Prisoners really challenges your thought process on what would you do; how far would you go; when would you stop… In the quest to find your loved one. It really pushes the ethical questions.
It also holds so many prisoners… The girls by their captor, the family by the media and situation, suspects by the cops, suspect by Dover, audience by the suspense.
Directed by Academy Award nominee Denis Villanueva (Incendies), the pacing and tension drive the movie despite some issues with the script that weaken the overall impact of the movie. I personally had figured out a few key things relatively early in the film and found red herring’s thrown in later to be a bit distracting. Plus, for my taste, it could’ve been tightened up and lose about 20 minutes of the film. Bring a lunch — this mystery drama clocks in at two hours and 26 minutes!
SIDE NOTE: And speaking of distracting, why bother paying attention to police procedure in a film? It would only help to make it more believable… and who needs that?
The cinematography by Academy Award nominee many times over (from Shawshank Redemption to Skyfall) Roger Deakins is just amazing. I loved every shot and the overcast monochrome tinting added to the drama. (Will this guy ever when the Oscar???)
As for the acting much of the all-star cast is wasted in the movie. The acting talents of Terrence Howard and Viola Davis are sidelined. They had very few meaty scenes in the film. Plus, Maria Bello remains drugged up and in bed for 80% of the film.
Jackman turns in a moving performance despite some scenes of overacting. And then there’s Gyllenhaal – who tries his level best to bring something to the role of Loki. We never quite get his back story or much of a story about him at all. What were his motivations? Inquiring minds want to know.
It might sound like I didn’t enjoy Prisoners, but I did. It was relatively smart, had something to say and was shot with amazing clarity. I know I’m being hard on this film, but it’s only because as much as I liked it, it could’ve been so much better.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES
Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout.