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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Prisoners

Prisoners

Acclaimed French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) makes his Hollywood debut with the thriller Prisoners.  Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and his family heads over to the house of his friend Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) for Thanksgiving dinner.  Afterwards, it is noticed that both Keller and Franklin’s daughters have gone missing.  Franklin’s son makes note of an RV he saw parked in the street, which leads the police to Alex Jones (Paul Dano), who becomes the main suspect.  Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), the lead investigator of the case, tries to ensure Franklin that his daughter will be found.  However, when the police are forced to release Jones from custody, Keller becomes fed up and decides to take the matter into his own hands.

At a running time of 153 minutes, Prisoners definitely takes its time to develop this story of a kidnapping and a father whose willing to do anything to get his daughter back.  It’s hard to talk to specifically about the plot of Prisoners without getting into spoiler territory, but I will say that the title of the film takes on multiple meanings.  More or less, the plot as a whole is built around opposite methods Jackman and Gyllenhaal's characters use to find the missing girls, with Gyllenhaal trying to do things by the book and Jackman bordering on vigilantism.

The film gets quite tense at times, especially during the second act, which features some disturbing moments of violence.  While watching this film, I kept thinking back to Clint Eastwood’s 2003 film Mystic River, less in relation to plot and more in the performances.  Namely, I would somewhat equate Hugh Jackman to Sean Penn’s character from that film, both in relation to his reaction to the traumatic events afflicted to his family, as well as him being dissatisfied with the police and deciding to handle the situation himself.  Jackman definitely gives the performance of his career in Prisoners and it often hard to decide whether you should be sympathetic to his situation or hateful of his actions.  I even wouldn’t be surprised if Jackman’s name turns up on the list of Best Actor nominees come Oscar time.

Even though Prisoners begins to go into a bit more of a conventional thriller direction by the third act, I thought that the film as a whole was exceptionally well done.  Even though there were many scenes in the film that were hard to watch, the film was always able to hold my attention during the 2 1/2 hour runtime and I never once felt bored with the action.

Overall, while it doesn’t quite match the level of, Denis Villeneuve’s previous film, Incendies, I thought that Prisoners was an excellent thriller.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).