Monday, December 2, 2013

Prisoners

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Running Time: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Rating: R

This isn’t the easiest movie to watch, but you won’t really be able to look away. The tone of the movie is dark, the story is gloomy, even the cinematography is super grayscale, with spouts of rain and snow in nearly every scene. Hugh Jackman's intensity as a father dealing with the abduction of his daughter is frightening, as he chooses to take matters into his own hands. The all-star cast shines in their own moments, but Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis get lost in the background.

On Thanksgiving Day, two young girls are abducted, and the primary suspect, Alex Jones (Paul Dano) couldn’t look more creepy and guilty. When he is released due to lack of evidence, Keller (Jackman) decides to take it upon himself to force a confession out of the boy. The torture he puts this kid through is inhumane. 

Melissa Leo is such a brilliant character actor. Her turn as Alex's aunt is almost unrecognizable, though her distinctive voice gives her away. This woman could win an award for every film she's in. As Detective Loki, Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderful. Loki hasn’t left a case unsolved since he was hired by the Pennsylvania Police Department. On “Inside the Actors Studio,” Gyllenhaal discussed his reasoning behind adding the character’s eye twitch, and how he notices similar tics in people of extremely high intelligence. This makes sense when watching the film - there are moments when we want Loki to say what he’s thinking, because we can see the wheels churning in his head. 

The story quickly becomes a game of cat and mouse, as Loki (and the audience) begin to suspect Keller. Could he possibly be related to the crime? Is he wrongly suspecting and torturing Alex? Everyone becomes a suspect, and you won’t see the end coming. Everyone in the story is a ‘prisoner’ at one point or another - whether it’s mental, emotional, physical, temporary or permanent. There are many times when you don’t know who to trust or believe, though the clues do make some moments more predictable than others. This one will stick with you long after you leave the theatre. 


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