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Sunday, September 29, 2013


About The Movie:

How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover is facing every parent's worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki arrests its driver, Alex Jones, but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child's life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?

What Is Good/Bad About The Movie:

It’s rare to find a film that really works on all levels, but that’s exactly what Prisoners a movie that works. Armed with blistering performances, an enthralling mystery, and some stunning filmmaking, the high-tension kidnapping thriller opens Oscar season with a bang.

Given two true powerhouse characters, Gyllenhaal and Jackman put on some of the best performances we’ve seen in either one’s career, anchoring the film’s story and making sure that the audience cares just as much about the missing girls as the characters do. From the moment he is introduced, eating Thanksgiving dinner alone in a Chinese restaurant, Loki is a captivating character. As a skilled detective, he's thrilling to watch as he moves through the evidence to solve the case, but Gyllenhaal also takes him on a hardcore emotional journey that is brilliant accented with an intensifying facial quirk that gets more and more severe as he travels further down the rabbit hole.

But if Gyllenhaal is a pair of tweezers delicately working to pull back the layers of the case, Jackman is a 20-pound sledgehammer filled to the brim with raw emotion, fire and pure id. Playing a grieving father makes it easy to sympathize with Keller off the bat, but the blinding rage that the actor expresses helps push the character in fascinating directions. As the story continues, half of you understands his passion and where that passion has led, while the other half wonders if he may not be film’s true villain. It’s a fascinating arc, and one made powerful and real by Jackman’s performance.

Despite its impressively stacked cast, Prisoners isn’t an ensemble film, but that doesn’t stop the supporting players from being fantastic and contributing to the movie in a major way. As the film’s first and prime suspect, Dano constantly throws off every guess the audience has about the story’s twists and turns and brilliantly plays the role with a perfect mix of extreme creepiness and child-like simplicity. Davis and Howard go through similar tragedies as the Dovers, and have a much different kind of arc, but both still deliver compelling, heart-wrenching performances. Of the main cast Bello gets the short stick, her character dealing with with the trauma by turning to prescription pills and hours and hours of sleep, but when she gets her spotlight moments she shines.

As though it’s not enough to have a terrific mystery and host some absolutely astounding performances, it’s all brought to life with gorgeous direction and cinematography. The film is littered with slow, creeping tracking shots that lend incredible atmosphere and suspense to the story. The contrast between the beautiful aesthetic and the dark, gritty story is stunning.
The movie plays with many themes over the course of its story, including the morality of what one would do to protect their own, the validity of torture, religion, and the many meanings of its simple title, and it all comes together to create a film that is part deep-thinking, hard hitting thriller and part pulpy mystery. A great deal of Prisoners is hard to watch due to its heavy and graphic content, but thanks to Villeneuve’s direction, Deakins camerawork, and Gyllenhaal and Jackman’s performances it’s even harder to look away. 

Overall Grade: A

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