Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
Filled with a barrage of visual symbolism and plenty of poetic justice (especially during the final shot) “Prisoners” would have undoubtedly made a better novel than movie. That said, it wasn’t the surprisingly superb and layered Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband) script that I had a problem with (well, there was one scene concerning a certain character walking his dog that was a little too absurd, but…) it’s the surprisingly average direction from Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) which had me proclaiming: “If only this had been directed by the Cohen Brothers!”
Synopsis: On an aggressively rainy night, six-year-old Anna Dover and her friend Joy go missing; presumably abducted. After this initial event, “Prisoners” forks off into two separate yet competing (and many times, interacting) storylines. In one, Hugh Jackman’s character, Keller Dover (father of Anna) seeks vengeance on who he suspects to be the abductor, a mentally challenged man named Alex, who looks like the portrait of a child molester, and played by Paul Dano, in a role which seemed to be tailor-made for him (I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing). The second storyline sees the tattooed Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as the lead investigator on the case, attempting to find the missing girls before it’s too late.
The Acting: While I was more than a little disappointed that Dano’s character was all but completely forgotten about during the second half of this movie, the star studded cast, which consists of Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, the aforementioned Jackman (who is just “all right” here. I mean, he has one scene where he goes all Wolverine on someone, but…) and Dano all come through with decent to noteworthy performances. But the real star of the show is Gyllenhaal, who unquestionably has played some troubled and complex characters in his career and Detective Loki may be the most intriguing of them all. And it doesn’t hurt that he gives an Oscar nomination worthy performance (oddly the only one in this movie).
Final Thought: For 3/4th of this film, “Prisoners” is nothing less than a “worth the price of admission” thriller, entirely motivated by characters who are all interacting along the blurred lines of good and evil, in a story which basically depicts the age old outline of the Devil and God waging war over the souls of the innocent; in the same vein as 1995’s “Se7en”. However, the final 40 minutes is where “Prisoners” did lose me a little, as it meanders, taking twists and semi-confusing turns that may cause some viewers to check their watches rather than stay glued to their seats. That doesn’t mean “Prisoners” isn’t one worth checking out (just don’t see it at AMC Mercado) as it is a film which will stay with you for hours after you’ve left the theater (in a good way) as it continuously begs the question: what lengths would you go to see that your child is safe?
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