Prisoners (2013) – Film Review

Prisoners is a slow-burner film that follows the story of the abduction of two little girls and two distraught families dealing with the repercussions. The Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins goes all out.  He provides us with an atmosphere that shows dread, sorrow, and misery.

Hugh Jackman, in what may be the best performance of his career, plays a man named Deller Dover, a father determined to find his abducted daughter. Dover’s sense of morality starts to fade as the situation becomes grimmer and his hope begins to dwindle. In the eyes of the law, his acts would be considered as vigilantism and inhumane. The film throws some very haunting moral dilemmas at the audience. It raises the question of lengths you would go to/what lines you would cross, to save your daughter. He affects the people around him in negative ways, especially his family and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), the father of the other missing daughter. Birch is vulnerable and drawn into Dover’s dark and conflicted path.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the officer working the case. He has a perfect track record and is determined to save the kidnapped girls. He follows up on leads and investigates as he starts to piece the puzzling case together. Gyllenhaal’s performance is top-notch. He is extremely convincing as a police officer and you root for him as he tries to figure out this case. His performances in films such as End of Watch and Zodiac are definitely an influence on his performance as Detective Loki.

Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is the prime suspect of the investigation. He is effectively creepy and convincing in his role. His performance has been severely underrated by most. The rest of the supporting cast does a good job. Melissa Leo does a stupendous job as the aunt of Alex Jones. Viola Davis and Maria Bello do a great job as the mothers of the missing daughters, although they don’t have much material to work with.

If you like the film Zodiac, then Prisoners just might be your thing. There are some Fincher-esque moments in the film too. The director, Denis Villeneuve did a great job with the film. It’s dark, atmospheric, and thought-provoking. It’s compelling, but in a quiet way. It makes you excited to hear every conversation between the characters and hang on to their every word. It will keep you guessing and is intense when it wants to be, I would expect to see this movie get some nominations come award season.

Random thoughts:

-The scene with Detective Loki driving to the hospital was filmed excellently and extremely intense. Definitely one of my favorite sequences in the film.

-Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal both deserve some sort of nomination this year.

Rating: 8.0/10


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