Review: Prisoners


– by C. Eden

When your daughter and her friend go missing do you wait for the cops to solve the mystery or take the law into your own hands? The simple question provides over two hours of film with the twists and turns of a rollercoaster and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman at the helm of one engaging thriller.

Two young girls are abducted after a thanksgiving dinner leaving both families involved devastated as they recount events to the rather unfortunately named Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain.) The character seems more suited to an older man but Gyllenhaal puts his own spin on the role with a cool demeanour and a quirky, overstated blink making the character come to life and have a little more depth, like there’s more to him than meets the eye.

After apprehending a suspect who is in the vicinity, Loki is only able to hold the offbeat and creepy Alex Jones (Paul Dano,) for 48hours despite getting no information out of the mentally handicapped detainee. When he is released to his aunt, (Melissa Leo,) the police have reached a dead end. With no new leads, Detective Loki finds himself having to give in to red tape and wait it out, wasting precious time, much to the exasperation of the families.

Sporting a semi decent American accent, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine, Les Miserables) easily steals the movie as Keller Dover, the father of one of the girls. Jackman’s transition from a quiet, God-fearing character to uncontrollably raging during the film is a testament to his talent and showcases his ability. His presence on screen is explosive and plays off the meek and quieter Franklin Birch(Terrence Dashon Howard, Mr Holland’s Opus, Get Rich or Die Tryin) the father of the other missing girl who’s role seems to be mostly the voice of reason. The two provide a good cop, bad cop act as they exact their own revenge, torture and interrogation tactics on the suspect the police couldn’t hold.

The film seems to lack some direction after the first half, asking the audience to take note of things that won’t matter later and also quickly brushing over things that will. Throw in another random suspect and in true goose chase fashion, the film manages to extend itself for another forty minutes or so before circling back around. One revelation after another slaps the viewer in the face, leaving them feeling sorry for the families, then the original suspect (who increasingly looks more innocent and is still being tortured) and trying to figure things out right up until the end where yet another twist happens only seconds before the credits roll.

Director Denis Villeneuve has a sixth sense when it comes to capturing powerful scenes from the most affective camera angles. Throughout the film they help push emotion to the limit and keep the viewer in the moment which is something a film of this length needs to maintain.  The darkness doesn’t let up through sombre scenes and in your face violence which will no doubt see this film up for awards in the near future.

If you are after a dark film that likens itself to so many real life criminal cases while still being fiction, it is worth checking out but it has a few -blink or leave for a toilet break and you’ll miss it- parts to keep note of. It sits somewhere between clichéd and cool but it’s different from what’s out there at the moment and definitely worth a watch.


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