Movie Review: Prisoners

Posted: September 30, 2013 in movie reviews, movies
Tags: , , , , , ,

Prisoners
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrance Howard

Prisoners is a tense, deliberate, stressful thriller that never ceases to shock you you even if you know what’s going to happen.  When Anna and Joy are kidnapped their families unite to find a way to bring the girls home. Keller Dover, Anna’s father proves he will stop at nothing in order to find his daughter even if that means taking the law into his own hands. This movie poses the question, how far would you go to find your child? And how far is too far?

Prisoners was Slow:
The movie started out like an indie. Each shot carefully composed in an abstract way. It took it’s time getting to each twist and turn in that special way only an indie could accomplish. This movie is over 2 and a half hours long, though it sometimes felt that way, while at times it was deliberately slow, other times it felt like the movie was just taking too long to figure out where it was going.

Prisoners was Deliberate:
What at times yes, the movie was slow, at other times it was justifiably slow. It was deliberate, not sluggish. It was careful, and tense and well thought out. Nothing in particular could be happening but you could feel your hands tightening into fists from all the tension. Give me “slow” and tense any day. Just maybe…cut out a 15-30 minutes or so….

Prisoners was Expected:
There were moments in this movie where I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen, and it took the characters a frustrating 10-20 minutes to realize something I put together right away. I don’t like it when I feel like I’m smarter than a movie, I want the movie to be smarted than me…

Prisoners was Unexpected:
That being said, it also took some unexpected routes. It blurred the lines between right and wrong making you question your own beliefs and morals. It took you down roads you would never think of. Crazy roads. All the while making the characters likeable. I was kept on the edge of my seat for most of the movie.

Prisoners was possibly too “well-acted”:
In a movie with major star power, it’s hard to see big stars as anything but who they are (i/e: Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Will Smith). Add that to a movie surrounding a tough subject such missing children or a major tragedy the movie could end up being a bit…maudlin and melodramatic. Sometimes it was, I’m looking at you Maria Bello and Jake Gyllenhaal. Sometimes I felt like they were overacting, and Jake Gyllenhaal was severely miscast. He was more believable as a cop in End of Watch then he was as a detective in this movie. And well…who decided to give him the name Detective Loki. No one is Loki but this guy. However, with major star power can also come…

Prisoners was well acted:
…amazing performances. Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, and a virtually unrecognizable Melissa Leo gave truly fantastic performances. Hugh Jackman’s performance was on par with the extraordinary performance he gave in Les Miserables. The heartache he brought to his character was able to blur the lines for us between right and wrong. Even in those moments I knew he was doing wrong, I hope if I ever went missing my father would look for me as fiercely as he looked for his daughter. Viola Davis gave a much more subtle performance than Maria Bello did. Her emotions were all over their face without even saying a word. The grief was haunting and unforgettable. But no performance stayed with me more than that of Paul Dano. His portrayal of Alex Jones as the quiet but creepy probable kidnapper of the two little girls was extremely harrowing. Even just the simple way he took a pause and quietly said no after being interrogated was enough to give you goosebumps.

Prisoners is a movie definitely worth checking out. It’s a tense, if not slightly predictable thriller that will leave you anxious for the entire movie. Once it’s over you’ll realize you’ve been holding your breath.

 

Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

 

 

 

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