Sunday, September 22, 2013


Year: 2013
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo

Plot: A desperate father takes extreme measures to find his kidnapped daughter, while a determined police detective tries his best to solve the case.

Review: Prisoners is one of those rare films where nearly everything comes together in perfection. The acting, the storytelling, writing and cinematography, and especially direction are all top notch.

In this story, two young girls do not return home, prompting a frantic search for them by their parents and the police, but to no avail. They have a suspect, who was seen driving an RV in the area, but he has a mind of a 10 year old, and the police release him due to lack of evidence. This does not go down well with Keller Dover, the father of one of the girls, who proceeds to kidnap and torture the suspect in order to get his daughter back. In the meantime, Detective Loki, the cop in charge of the case, doggedly pursues every lead while keeping a close eye on Keller.

This film is basically about what a person is willing to do to protect what matters to them. Denis Villeneuve (director) and writer Aaron Guzikowski have created a near masterpiece of a story that is compelling and heartbreaking for the audience to behold. Despite its length (153 minutes), it never gets dull as all the players involved contribute their own piece that adds layer after layer to the story as it twists and turns to the end. The great Roger Deakins as cinematographer only adds more greatness to an already awesome film, showing the dark and grittiness of the locations with nary a shot out of place.

We all know Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but here he is as intense as I've ever seen him. As the desperate Keller, we watch him torment whom he thinks is responsible for kidnapping his daughter, and we sympathise and fear him simultaneously. He ought to get an Oscar nod for this role. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Detective Loki, the co-lead here, who is in a way, the other side of the coin with Keller. He's just as determined as the father and damn near as extreme, except he's a man of the law, and follows it mostly. Terrence Howard and Viola Davis are pretty solid too as the parents of the other kidnapped girl, who don't know if they should support Keller's actions or not. Maria Bello has her moments as Keller's wife, who conveys a mother's despair quite convincingly. Melissa Leo puts in an understated performance as the suspect's aunt, but it works so well. Finally Paul Dano is awesome as the suspect Alex Jones, who has barely a page of lines here, but is effective as a man whom the audience will have a hard time figuring out if he's genuine or putting on an act.

There were a couple of plotholes which were left unexplained, and I can't mention them without giving too much away, and the ending seems a tad abrupt after everything that had come before that. But these are not enough to ruin what is already a magnificent picture.

Overall, Prisoners is a must watch. It's disturbing, heart-wrenching and compelling. You will probably feel uncomfortable with some of the things that happen here, but it's very much worth it. Highly recommended. (4/5) 

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