Archive | September, 2013

Prisoners Is a Challenging and Suspenseful Drama

24 Sep


Last Friday night myself and my partner in movie-going adventures (Ken) caught Prisoners at Cineplex. I had been looking forward to this since the trailer which indicated it would be an intense drama and possibly an exceptional movie to kick off the fall movie season, which usually gives way from summer blockbuster types for more serious fare. And I must admit, I am anxious for some truly memorable movies. I liked much of what I saw this season but it’s hard when you don’t have an Avengers caliber movie to really give the summer season a bang. Not to say I didn’t love Iron Man 3, which I will be purchasing Sept 24, but that was in May and now I’m jonesing for something more meaty.


Prisoners features Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard as fathers desperate to find their missing little girls. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a nuanced performance as a lone detective trying to solve a seemingly hopeless case. There is so much to say about this movie but I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll try to be very selective about what I say. Paul Dano stars as the creepy man who is a strong suspect by police but is ultimately let go after extensive questioning finds he doesn’t have the intelligence to pull off an elaborate kidnapping. Gyllenhaal moves on to other suspects but Jackman is convinced this disturbed young man has something to do with his daughter’s disappearance.


I turned to Ken half way through this movie and said to him “ I have no idea where the fuck this movie is going” which can be both good and bad. The director Denis Villeneuve creates this emphatic feeling of helplessness which is effective in creating sympathy for the two sets of parents, as well as drawing you into the bleak, grey world the film creates. The performances from Jackman and Gyllenhaal are both incredible in their own right, though I was truly impressed with Gyllenhaal’s mysterious and driven detective. We all know Jackman is a formidable actor and singer but this was a great role for Gyllenhaal to show us a quieter, darker character.


This movie is very disturbing, not only because the subject matter of missing children is difficult, but really the hard part is asking what happens after they’ve been kidnapped. Even if they’re returned, are they ever really the same? The story jumps around a bit which can be a bit confusing, especially as you begin to reconcile to yourself that this isn’t going to be some procedural a la Law and Order SVU. That was another strong point from this film, you really felt the hopelessness, the confusion, the desperation when options start running out. There’s no clue at the crime scene to lead to the next great revelation. Just a detective trying to do his best with the resources available to him and desperate parents who don’t have many other options than to trust that this man will be lucky and get to bring their daughter home.


Ultimately, I hope you will find this movie challenging and engrossing. I hope you’ll be wowed by the performances and taken along through the swift current of flawed character decisions in wide eyed disbelief. I hope you will ask yourself “what would I do?” but I hope you’ll also never know the answer.