Keller Dover faces a parent's worst nightmare when his 6-year-old daughter, Anna, and her friend go missing. The only lead is an old motorhome that had been parked on their street. The head of the investigation, Detective Loki, arrests the driver, but a lack of evidence forces Loki to release his only suspect. Dover, knowing that his daughter's life is at stake, decides that he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands.
Really intense and well done thriller. One of the few in the last years with great performances by Jackman, Gyllenhaal and Dano. It also has some content to chew. I really enjoyed watching it.
Certainly Villenueve's most accessible film, but still a very good one. Final rating:★★★½ - I strongly recommend you make the time.
What a powerful film and what a great acting. I just couldn't help rewinding various scenes throughout, especially when Jackman's character showed anger and frustration for either his child being abducted or having what he thought was the culprit being tortured, although getting nowhere. Definitely a must for Mystery/Drama. 8/10
MUST SEE MOVIES BEFORE YOU DIE, another masterpiece by Hugh Jackman, surprising plot-twist!!
Be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst. Prisoners is directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Aaron Guzikowski. It stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terence Howard, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano. Music is by Jóhann Jóhannsson and cinematography by Roger Deakins. When Keller Dover's (Jackman) daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands... At first glance of the plot synopis, one could be forgiven for thinking this is yet another revenge thriller filled out by police procedural side-bars. How pleasant to find that Prisoners has more to offer than a simple who is the criminal? And just how far will a vengeful father go to satiate his grief?. Prisoners is such an apt title because all the main players here are trapped by either mental fragility or victims of their innocence, guilt or chaotic impulses. It's a multi stranded character piece that poses many questions, while of course it has a big mystery element. The narrative features a whole host of clues that might be something, or not, unanswered questions dangle throughout until the finale reveals thge edgy secrets. It's safe to say that the themes at work here are dark and upsetting, with the core abduction thread siddling up against horredous back stories, torture and religious mania. Gruzikowski's screenplay is quality, mesmerising even, there's no lazy filler or extranous sequences, even as the jigsaw pieces are put together in the last quarter, you may find yourself wondering how you missed something so simple?. This was Villeneuve's first English language picture, and it's not hard to see why he was highly touted as one of the next big director beings - his output that followed subsequently bears this out. His control of mood and pacing is superb, his garnering of high quality perfs from his cast (notably Jackman and Gyllenhaal) is impressive, and his teaming with the great Deakins is a match made in photographic heaven. This is adult film making, a thriller designed to illicit emotional responses from the audience. Relentless and powerful, a troubling examination of the human conditioning in various guises - and we are witnesses. 9/10
**This heavy film is not for everyone but for those that enjoy suspenseful crime cinema, this is one of the absolute best.** A crime thriller that brilliantly manages its slow pace to create the same dread the characters feel in the hearts of the audience. Every passing second steals the parents' hope away that they could ever find their children alive. Everything about this movie emphasizes the story's emotion, from the acting and muted color tones to the sets and directing.
Prisoners is a carefully constructed labyrinth, deceptively simple and very clever. The material was nothing new even when the film was released, but director Denis Villeneuve (pre-Dune) and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski work a few unexpected twists and turns into their maze to keep us on our toes. The key element, however, is Hugh Jackman’s career-best performance as Keller Dover, a father whose patience for police work quickly runs thin when Detective Loki (the always effective Jake Gyllenhaal) fails to find Dover’s kidnapped little daughter. It will surprise no one that Dover decides to take the law into his own hands, recruiting Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), his best friend whose daughter has also gone missing, to kidnap the only suspect – whom the police has ruled out for the moment –, take him to an abandoned house, and beat a confession out of him. This is par for the course in the movies, but is it realistic? Can a father, however desperate he may be, really go from zero to psycho in no time flat? The film makes this transition 50% more believable by making the character a committed survivalist, meaning that he was halfway there all along. And even if we still found it hard to believe, Jackman would just browbeat us into believing it with a sadistic, ballistic, animalistic skin-shedding, raw nerve-baring performance wherein he doesn't just go berserk; he goes full on Beserker. In some twisted way, all this makes sense; the antagonist or antagonists are just as crazy as Dover, if not more: making children disappear is their way of “making war with God”. With that in mind, who better than a monster to find a monster? Dover may not in fact be too far off either, or is he? In one of those twists I mentioned, the movie toys with the Law of Economy of Characters by casting Paul Dano as the mentally challenged man on whom Dover’s suspicions (and fists, among other objects) fall. Gyllenhaal’s work is as strong Jackman’s, but more subtle and nuanced; he gives his Loki an eye tic which lets us know that, although he has solved all his cases, and belying his usual calm and collected demeanor, he has not gotten to where he is without some traumas of his own.
Prisoners is a largely generic revenge / suspense / mystery "they have my kid" tale with a predictable plot that gives itself away too early. No attempt at realism, this is Scooby-Doo style investigation - lie detectors are treated seriously, "bad guys" are largely 1-dimensional with poorly explained motives designed to surprise rather than give insight, etc. It tries to make up for this in a few ways: a) bump up the intensity of scenes (comes across forced and awkward), b) add extra violence and dark semi-religious symbolism (seems out of place and largely meaningless), and most importantly c) maintain an air of mystery by throwing left-field plot points at you every 3-5 minutes to keep your attention. If you carefully note the clues, about half way through the film it strongly indicates the finale. After that the air of mystery that keeps the film feeling suspenseful largely dissolves and you are left with what feels like a AI-generated script desperately trying and failing to throw you off the initial clues. The film's greatest redeeming quality is its attempt to turn some revenge film character archetypes on their head. It is not always successful, but the attempt to break cliches is always welcome! I suspect a much better film will be inspired by this.