Prisoners: Be Ready
By Sean Molloy
If I could pick one word to describe “Prisoners” it would be, effective. Going into the film the audience knows it’s in for every parent’s nightmare. Having a child abducted is something usually only seen through a Dateline episode or something heard over the news. This is where the movie earns its rave reviews. Being able to craft the tale into a 2-hour mystery is perfect. The writing team is able to give certain clues to look out for, figure out how long until police begin to catch on and then deliver one great ending on their own agenda.
Hugh Jackman will give the majority of the credit for his acting performance in “Prisoners” and it is completely justified. The man who usually has metal claws coming out of his hands is put into a role I’ve never seen him attempt. A broken father who loses his little girl and takes the law into his own hands. We feel Jackman’s desperation and heartbreak throughout the film and give the kind of acting job where we can sympathize with his methods of getting the daughter back. However, to me, the star of this movie is Jake Gyllenhall, even if he doesn’t get the most screen time. His character, Loki, wants to solve the case desperately as he has never failed to do so. The anger that comes off the screen permeates in the right ways, the frustration made my knuckles white. In turn with developing such a great character it almost frustrates me knowing that Gyllenhall just gave us Hollywood crap for so long. You can act Jake, please look for more of these challenging and terrific characters to morph yourself into. Rounding out the cast is Maria Bello, Terence Howard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano. All actors provide just the right amount of realism to the story minus Howard. He never gives the sense of dread or anguish that his daughter is missing, it just doesn’t feel real.
Like I said in the intro, Prisoners really does benefit from terrific writing. The movie, albeit about 15 minutes too long, does a more than exceptional job questioning morality when given an impossible series of choices. Some sequences provide just the right amount of “creep.” I compared them to such films as Se7en and Zodiac. The biggest issue Prisoners has is that it has more questions than it can answer, which is understandable seeing how interwoven the plot is. It’ll take multiple views to figure out how each puzzle piece fits where. I was in the need of a solid drama and the film provided with what I wanted at the time, great direction, powerhouse acting and a well thought out narrative that will keep the audience thinking they’ve figured out the ending, but just wait.