When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer[s]: Aaron Guzikowski
Prisoners is a cool combination of cast and crew all with recent interesting performances and creations. Jackman coming off arguably his biggest back to back movies ever, Les Miserables and The Wolverine, and now he returns to a real movie role, nothing iconic; Gyllenhaal returning to the screen as a detective after his most extensively studied role as an LA police officer in End of Watch; cinematographer Roger Deakins‘ first film after Skyfall, which changed my movie watching world in terms of camera work, framing, and general cinematography. All in all, I have been waiting to see this movie for a while, and expectations and critics’ reviews are high.
Keller Dover [Jackman] is a good, strong father, who’s main priority to to be ready and keep his family safe. Just one simple mistake on a fun, lazy Thanksgiving day changes everything, however, when Dover’s daughter and a family friend’s daughter end up missing. The one suspect they have seems to be mentally challenged, or having an IQ of a ten year old. But when Keller confronts him at the police station, this estranged suspect, Alex Jones [Dano], seems to know more than he lets on. While the police and detective Loki [Gyllenhaal] do everything in their power to find these two girls, Dover decides to take matters into his own hands. Strange coincidences and relating cases all come into play as we search to find the kidnapper and kids.
The most powerful presence felt, starting right from the beginning, is Deakins’. The camera work paired with the original soundtrack by Johann Johannsson makes for a powerful, gripping environment. Nothing builds suspense better than the combination of visuals and audio. The wet, gritty, and dark environment of the buildings and neighborhoods is real, and scary.
This film is relentless. Two hours of non-stop, gut-wrenching pain and suffering. Sadness and darkness from all parties involved, and the reactions and emotions from the cast are hauntingly real. Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and Howard have created real people for this film, each with their own physical tendencies that they stick to throughout. Dano and David Dastmalchain are horrifying and frightening in their strangeness and quirks. This has to be one of the most well cast films of the year.
The story and twists and surprises are all up to par for a good thriller, and I was genuinely stumped. The thrill is all in the game, however. We don’t fade to black when our riddle is solved, but rather have another 25+ minutes of film left, and it is here that the movie loses some luster and realism, and we are reminded that we are watching a film, pulled back into the realization that these aren’t real people and real events. Although it doesn’t last the whole ride, I’m always glad to be immersed so deep into a film.
But don’t get me wrong, the end of the film is just fine.
3.5/4 – Prisoners is a success of acting, audio/visual, and direction. Gritty, dark, and scary environments manage to pull you so far into the experience that you feel like you wake from a dream when it’s all over. And not just any dream, but a nightmare.