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Prisoners Review: A Haunting Thriller With Great Direction
What would you do to save your children? This is one of the questions that Prisoners asks. At the first glance, this film might appear to be a by-the-numbers abduction flick, but it is much more than that.
The story is about two families who have a routine get together, that lose their respective daughters. They spend all day looking for them, but they can’t find them, and the only thing that they have to go by is a mysterious RV that they saw parked in front of a neighbor’s house.
Enter Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has solved every case that he has been given. He locates the RV and the only suspect they have is the owner of the RV named Alex Jones. The problem is that Alex (Paul Dano), has the mind of a 10 year old and cannot give any information, so the police must release him.
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), the father of one of the girls, feels Alex knows more than what he is letting on. He makes it his mission to get the information from Alex by keeping him prisoner in an abandoned building and torturing him until he gets his answers.
This is where the film does something different than other films like this. We start to feel sympathy for a man that might be either innocent or guilty. Keller does some horrific things to this person, but with his intellect, it’s like he doing this to a child.
We see the toll that this has taken on the family. Keller has become consumed by the disappearance and his wife has become a pill-popping manic-depressive. Loki is given several roadblocks and has to deal with these constant setbacks.
You’ll have your assumptions as to what you think the ending is. However, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t end how you think it will.
The thing I really love the most about this film is the atmosphere. It’s so haunting, and there is barely any sunlight. The gloomy setting matches the tone of the film, since there is nothing to be happy about in the character’s lives. It reminded me a lot of Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, and the plot is even somewhat similar. Huge thumbs up to cinematographer Roger Deakins.
I will admit that the plot is nothing new, but the film always keeps you on the edge of your seat. Director Denis Villeneuve films this in such a way that I was never bored, and the runtime of 153 minutes flew by pretty quickly. With the children’s lives at stake, there is a time factor, so the suspense never stops. I haven’t seen Incendies, but after this film, I’m interested in seeing Villeneuve’s other work.
The performances were quite good. Hugh Jackman is doing some of his best work here, and I feel it’s even better than last year’s Les Misérables. I would love to see him nominated for this role, but I doubt it will happen. In a similar fashion, Gyllenhaal brings a lot to the brooding detective Loki.
I was very intrigued by the movie with the trailer. I was cautious though, because I thought it might be another generic movie. But thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. In much lesser hands, this film could have been destined for the discount bin.
This film will have you questioning how far you will go, and it is a great exercise in emotional exploration. The thrills are quite genuine and never feel forced. I don’t see it becoming a classic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people are talking about this film for a while after its release.