Fall is officially in full swing. Gone are the blockbusters cluttering the megaplexes and the leaves are starting to turn. This can only mean one thing: adult-centric films and Oscar hopefuls take over. Throughout October smaller studio films and horror films will come and go, but the focus will constantly turn to the latest film looking to capitalize on its goodwill. This year, the season kicks off with “Prisoners,” a film that busts open the season.
“Prisoners” follows Kellar Dover (Hugh Jackman), a blue-collar father who discovers his daughter and her friend have gone missing on Thanksgiving. Coinciding with their disappearance is a mysterious RV. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) locates and apprehends the RV and its driver, it appears that it might be a dead-end. With a wife stricken with grief and the other girl’s parents frantic for a sign of hope, Kellar takes matters into his own hands. Now with the police exploring any avenue to save the two girls before its too late, Kellar attempts to find them himself. But Kellar’s methods aren’t as sound or effective as he hopes, spiraling him into an increasingly dark and hopeless world.
This is not an uplifting film. The tension builds from the first few moments and ceases to let up. With a runtime around 2 ½ hours, the story allows the audience to grow with the characters as they go through this ordeal. Jackman inhabits the role of Kellar with such commitment and ferocity, its difficult to imagine him being overlooked for an Oscar nomination. He portrays the broken father with believability that makes us feel his every thought and feeling. Of course, the supporting cast is nothing to scoff at either. Backed my Oscar nominees Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, and Terrance Howard, the film is packed full of memorable performances. But of all the supporting roles, Gyllenhaal is the strongest. Arguably one of his best roles yet, Loki acts as the legal system balance to Kellar’s vengeful manner.
The strength of the film isn’t entirely on the cast. Director Denis Villeneuve combines his nuanced directing with a score and cinematography that leaps of the screen. “Prisoners” is not a movie that is simply seen; it is felt emotionally and lingers long after the credits roll. With a climax that borders on being too intense, “Prisoners” is a disturbing yet brilliant film filled with great performances. 4 out of 5 stars.
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