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This was one intense movie-going experience. Throughout the entire
running time of the movie, the suspense never lets up.
The director masterfully weaves the haunting atmosphere, and I was at the edge of my seat. The plot is a wonderful puzzle, unraveling slowly to reveal hidden layers of depth and complexity. The acting was wonderful, emotional and nuanced, with some unforgettable moments (The two leads - Gyllenhaal and Jackman - give their career best performances, but the biggest achievement in my opinion is Paul Dano's). The musical score contributes to a sense of dread, as well as the rich sound design and the chilly color palette of the breathtaking cinematography.
All those parts add up to a rare, gut-wrenching, dark and fascinating masterpiece - the kind that lingers with you long after the credits roll.
There is a sensitivity that Director Denis Villenueve and writer Aaron
Guzikowski inhabit in bringing their newest film "Prisoners" from
Warner Bros. to the screen. Starring an Academy Award nominated cast
that includes Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terence Howard, Maria
Bello, Viola Davis, Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano, this is a
smartly constructed and emotionally resound mystery thriller that is
The synopsis is fully in the trailer. When two young girls go missing, one belonging to Keller and Grace (Jackman and Bello), the other to Franklin and Nancy (Howard and Davis), a hot-shot detective (Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case and relentlessly tries to find the clues that could lead to the whereabouts of the missing. When a mentally handicapped Alex Jones (Dano) is found near the scene of the disappearance with no hard evidence, Keller takes matters into his own hands.
I have to say that I've never been this hypnotized with the works of Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Jackman, who is fresh of his inaugural nomination for Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" has capitalized in a massive way. Approaching his character with the ferocity that made him a star in the "X-Men" franchises, he hammers his way into every scene, keeping the audience guessing about their own moral complexities. He tears into scenes in a way we've never seen him and layers his character with plenty of affection, empathy, grief, and rage. It's his best dramatic endeavor he's ever done.
When it comes to Jake Gyllenhaal, many, and probably for the right reasons, gravitate towards his work in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" as his shining moment in film history. I believe he's gone deeper in works like "Jarhead" and "Zodiac" but those were just the surface of what he can do as an actor. As Detective Loki, Gyllenhaal stands firm and tall in one of the year's finest performances. Terrifically executed as a man disconnected from real emotion, he finds himself enamored by the mystery surrounding two missing girls. He also orchestrates character beats and ticks that's reminiscent of Joaquin Phoenix's towering work in "The Master" last year.
What is very refreshing in the film is it offers a great reminder of how brilliant an actor Terence Howard is. The Oscar-nominated actor seemed to fall by the wayside following his nomination for "Hustle and Flow" in 2006, coincidentally the same year Gyllenhaal snagged his first, and now has realized his capabilities when he chooses more dynamic and passionate characters. In a film that centers around his involvement, Paul Dano doesn't have too much to offer but is completely adequate in form.
The film however is not entirely perfect. Aaron Guzikowski's depth screenplay offers a great mystery story, full of twists and turns, all the bit a tad predictable, but that's not where he falters so much. His construction of the female counterparts, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, and Melissa Leo, are not as crisply or smoothly put together as I'd like them to be. They each have one "scene" that gives us their character's motivation and the look into their cinematic psyche however, some are thrown in quite lazily and manages to halt the story in spots.
The film's technical merits all rise to the abilities of its cast. Roger Deakins, the most overdue Cinematographer in the business, captures stunning portraits of conversations, weather, and scenes that continue to prove his brilliance in the film world. The film's score is masterfully placed by Jóhann Jóhannsson while Joel Cox and Gary Roach edit the film to an impeccable pace.
At 153 minutes, the film is detailed, precise, and engaging nearly throughout. I feel there's a shorter cut of the film that would surely be a Best Picture nominee for this year's Academy Awards if it existed. The film could still garner that support with what they have now, but I think there are aspects of the film members won't be able to get around. A high level of violence and torture scenes infused with a longer run time could keep people at a distance. One thing that can't be denied is the towering works of Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The two have offered plenty of memorable performances in their filmography, but their work in "Prisoners" is cut and clear their best they've offered.
"Prisoners" is a magnificent achievement for the film year. Thorough, enigmatic, and purely amazing. A must-see for the movie lovers.
The film opens in theaters this Friday, September 20.
Prisoners is a gritty, incredibly well-acted, suspenseful,
thought-provoking crime drama thriller. The film mainly focus on the
choices taken and the consequences faced by the characters when worst
things happen to them.
It simply raises the question: When your kid's life is at stake, how far are you willing to do to protect your family? It explores the likelihood of human behaviour when such crime is happening to us, blurring the lines between good and bad people.
For a 153 minute movie, the story does unfolds at a slow and solemn pace (which hurts the film and might bore some audiences) but the dramatic scenes performed by the main cast members in the film will keep you engaged. Hugh Jackman and Jack Gyllenhaal both giving intense, Oscar-worthy performances here, defining and developing their characters with various layers of emotions: affection, anger, grief, empathy, guilt...throughout the film.
The film's atmosphere, heavy rains, stormy days and icy cold winter managed to create a dark, dreadful environment to make up the dreary and haunting mood in the film. Every violent action taken by the characters are acts of desperation given that they are running out of time.
However, the film is not perfect. Despite some plot problems from the various twists and turns shown in the film, the superb performances from the casts was sufficient enough to make the story succeed and believable.
Highly recommended for those who wanted to watch a serious drama thriller with powerful, engaging acting performances from its talented casts.
Hugh Jackman takes you on a trip through the intense emotions a family is put through during its darkest hour. This may be his best role to date. From the trailers you know that his character will be out for blood as their daughter was kidnapped, but throughout the film you feel his pain, anger and moral struggles as he deals with this situation. The director does an excellent job of keeping you invested in the film emotionally even through some intensely violent scenes. Its dreary setting provides no comfort, but goes hand and hand with the narrative. This film may not be for those faint of heart but should be a must see for most viewers.
Wow, what an intensely suspenseful film Prisoners was. The film
commences with a naturalistic and peaceful look of a suburban
neighborhood, leafless trees calmly swaying along with the cool air
that encompass them. All is fine, and a perfectly normal family visits
their friends/neighbors for a delightful dinner and some music.
Everything is fine and dandy until both family's two kids run off to
retrieve a toy they left outside. After pleasant conversation, the two
families begin to realize that their kids haven't gotten back yet. The
noiseless environment around them feels incredibly unusual, and once
they realize that their kids have officially gone missing, chaos breaks
loose. We are suddenly presented with a ruthless father (played by Hugh
Jackman) who loves his daughter so much that he's willing to transcend
any morally difficult obstacles to hopefully locate her.
A spectacular cast, ranging from the likes of Hugh Jackman to Jake Gyllenhaal to Viola Davis and Terrence Howard, create such a chilling atmosphere that everyone in the audience immediately notices the discomforting subject matter as they prepare for a disturbing viewing. One should know prior to visiting the movie theater that this film doesn't feature morally perfect individuals. They are all human beings cast into an unbelievably frightening situation, and this is where larges amounts of debate will stir. There's one side of the audience that will persistently detest the characters' actions and the characters themselves, and there's the other side (which I am proudly a part of) that will essentially understand that people can't possibly (always) be the "goody-two-shoes" heroes, perceived in Hollywood blockbusters, in reality- that, by god, I will partake morally and ethically questionable activities to save a precious, loved one, absolutely! Such conversation/argument is healthy for it proves the memorability factor of the film itself. After you witness the terrifically-crafted picture, you will find enjoyment in discussing the movie's events with friends and family with- eventually- two sides forming over the talk.
And holy crap is Hugh Jackman entirely convincing in his performance. You can see the longing to find his sweet, innocent daughter through his miserable eyes, filled with redness, desperation, and anger. Then, there's Jake Gyllenhaal as the second lead, playing an ambitious cop who holds a very impressive resume: no unsolved cases left under his plate. Can that mean his skill will greatly help in this predicament? On a similar note, Paul Dano takes the prize after Hugh Jackman for another wonderful performance. No offense or anything, but he completely fits into these immensely creepy and eerie roles.
Speaking of, the soundtrack will definitely remain in that shocked mind of yours long after you've left the theater because it fills us with a sense of hopelessness and discomfort. At times, it sounds exceptionally ominous with the disconcerting sound of those violins in play. At others, it sounds like the music weeps for all those involved. The pace never seems to drag even though it clocks in at around 150 minutes as you remain at the edge of seat the entire time, utterly perplexed by everything that's transpiring and wholly befuddled by the choices that these people are making. The film will make you cringe and question the humanity of the participants or the competence of our law (that word could mean two things). Although I was slightly disappointed with the end result, the majority of the film strongly intrigued me. And, oh, how could I forget, the cinematography is simply amazing. Roger Deakins, the brilliant cinematographer behind last year's Skyfall, manages the camera-work of this film as well. As one wise critic said, a drive in the rain never felt so disquieting- a moment of foreboding.
Furthermore, I would not recommend skipping out on Prisoners unless you're of the type that prefers more lighthearted and fun movies like The Avengers. If you love films that explore more than just entertainment and "fun," such as important themes and moral ambiguity as a whole, you cannot go wrong with Prisoners. With a mix of top-notch cinematography, remarkably unsettling music, superb performances, and a thrilling/powerful story, Prisoners will definitely be one of this year's features that I'll surely be remembering. The true cinema season has started; now, let's hope every film from here on out delivers like this one did.
I just came back from the theater and to be honest I went into this
movie with very low expectation! But WOW did it prove me wrong. The
film left me on the edge of my seat all the time, one could argue
things were slow sometimes but it only adds to the beauty of the big
Performance are top notch and if it was for me I would give Jackman his very deserved Oscar for this amazing performance, of course all the other performances were really great also but Hugh's stands out for me.
This movie is worth your time, and I'm sure by the end of it you'll keep talking about it with your friends, for me that is a success stamp if the movie can keep my mind busy all the time.
This is not your feel-good movie. This is a perfectly paced thriller which I haven't seen anything like it in a very long time. For me this was a totally new experience as I usually go for lighter movies in the cinema, but after this movie I will go out of my comfort-zone in movies more often to find masterpieces like this one.
Prisoners, the new film from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve
(Polytechnique), is a top notch nail-biting crime-drama that is as good
a theatre as modern Hollywood has the ability to produce.
Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello play the parental figures of the Dover family. They are your average hard-working blue-collar family who begin their story by visiting neighbours Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) for a Thanksgiving dinner. The Franklins and the Dover's each have two children, the youngest of which (Anna and Joy) head out from their home on a November afternoon to play only to mysteriously disappear.
Upon a frantic search, the Franklins and the Dover's suspect the worse. Especially when their elder children tell them of a mysterious camper that was parked just down the street. Police soon find the camper with Alex Jones (Paul Dano) behind the wheel. Alex has the mentality of a 10-year-old and tries fleeing when surrounded by authorities. But when Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to interrogate Alex, he is less convinced that Alex was a part of the abduction. As days pass, Loki and Keller Doller work in opposite directions on the investigation. Keller is convinced that Alex Jones was a part of the abduction and kidnaps the frail and challenged Jones and tortures him for days in an attempt to extract answers. Meanwhile, Detective Loki follows leads that open up possibilities of a crime where multiple persons may be involved. And Oscar nominee Melissa Leo appears in a supporting but pivotal role that will assist in the closure.
The trailer for Prisoners may have audiences hearkening back to Ron Howard's Ransom, but this is hardly the cookie-cutter kidnapping film that Mel Gibson lead back in 1996. Prisoners instead is an engulfing drama. One with a superb performance by lead Hugh Jackman that challenges how far someone would/should go in an effort to locate their stolen child.
The script, from writer Aaron Guzikowski (Contrband) takes audiences down many different paths and emotional rides and Jackman's performance will have you rooting for his quest for answers even though his methods are unorthodox and highly illegal.
The film is gritty and full of realistic characters and situations culminating in a perfect ending that goes 9/10ths of the way in giving its audience full closure. Not as much an edge-of-your seat thriller as it is a Zodiac type of crime drama where the stakes are the lives of two small children.
Denis Villeneuve's last effort, Incendies, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2011. Prisoners shows that he can move solidly into big star larger scaled films with the ease of a well worn slipper. And Prisoners catapults Villeneuve into not just a director to watch, but a director whose work should be awaited with palpable excitement.
Prisoners is extremely suspenseful and equally disturbing. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, whose last film was the equally spellbinding and disturbing Incendies, builds up the tension from the first frame and does not let up for the full 153 minutes of the movie. Aaron Guzikowski's script, though on the surface a child kidnapping thriller, bucks all Hollywood trends and, as well as being a taut thriller, poses serious moral issues. It also helps that the film has a first rate cast doing outstanding work: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Terence Howard, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello and Viola Davis. Prisoners is not for the faint heated but is likely to feature strongly at next year's Oscars.
Prisoners movie review
Prisoners is a Mystery/Thriller film starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano. Prisoners is a film about two families who both of their daughters get kidnapped and both of the families with the help of the police, investigate and look for their daughters. This is a very dark, grim, and at times is a hard film to sit through. That being said, I have created a PainOmeter scale out of five (five being the worst) to inform you guys if you simply cannot take very violent and painful scenes. This will be addressed along will the film's final score. I loved this film! Hugh Jackman plays Anna's father and is the protagonist of the film. You can see how Jackman really loses his rag and does a great job as Keller Dover. There is one scene that involves Jackman doing something that I won't spoil but you will notice it and go WOW! The story is also very thought provoking and will keep you on the edge of your seat because of the direction and character building involved with this movie. Also Paul Dano who plays Alex Jones, is this weird adult with the IQ of a ten year old and is the main suspect of the investigation. I thought he nailed just the right tone of the character and was hard to "look at" at times. My favorite part of the film was surprisingly Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the detective looking for the missing girls. Gyllenhaal still plays the role of a cop very well after all of that training for End Of Watch. Another great part of the film is that it manages to never take a rest on character building and story development. I hate when films give you time to take a break then start all over again and this film really avoids that entirely. I really have no problems with the film except for the runtime. Even though this was a great movie I just couldn't go for a perfect grade of an A+. I will give Prisoners an A solid.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had no expectations of this movie, as I was dragged along to see it
by a mate with a Jake Gyllenhaal fixation, but was pleasantly surprised
to find it was a bleak-seeming action/drama with Hugh Jackman too,
who's generally excellent in everything he's in. The first 30 minutes
or so of the movie were really promising. I liked the set-up of the 2
cozy families in their suburban idyll sharing a thanksgiving meal and
discovering, to their horror, their kids had somehow gone missing. That
part felt very real, very "based on a true story" and had me on the
edge of my seat. As the film went on though, the clunky writing and
flabby storytelling started to lose my interest.
#1. My first big problem came with the utterly implausible discovery of the body in the pedophile priest's basement. First of all, Gyllenhaal's decision to move the freezer based on the flex being dangerously stretched, just seemed...dumb. Why would he care if the guy stretches his flex? It didn't seem from his reaction ("drunks!") that he thought the freezer was hiding something, and yet he opts to shove the big heavy thing closer to the socket because presumably it bothers him. Then - whoa - there's a door there, and whoa it's a big cellar (which is not that weird really), and now - whoa - look a body!
#2. And next came a great big WHY? He's a pedophile catholic priest so why was he SO outraged that a man might kill kids. He abuses children but is still so horrified by a killer that he opts to kill the guy who's (again...utterly improbably) has come to him for confession, but not so horrified that he tells ANYONE the guy's story? Or attempts to find out if it's true before he offs him? Instead he just stuffs the body in the basement and drinks a lot. Hmm.
#3. My next problem was the biggest and clumsiest of the plot points. Gyllenhaal finds a body and hears a weird-ass tale about child murders (and presumably there's a not a lot of those locally), but despite his incredible intellect and ability to make connections, he doesn't spot the REALLY ODD MAZE NECKLACE on the body until the drawing falls conveniently from his desk alongside it, and make the connection between the two.
#4. Why is escaped and presumably traumatized kidnap victim Bob stealing children's clothes, covering them in pig's blood and putting them in boxes full of snakes? It would make sense if he was somehow part of the cover-up, or working for Alex's aunt, but he's not. So for some reason known only to himself he's stealing clothes and making it seem like Anna and Joy are dead when they're not. Presumably because he's traumatized. Or just mental. But either way, it's not really explained, it's just a great big red herring that confuses everything.
#5. What is the significance of Keller's dad's suicide? Because if there is no significance, why show Loki reading about it as if it's important? Presumably (again) it's so he can find out that the building that Keller's going to is where his dad died - but so what? Why is it important, other than to cloud the waters and confuse the audience even more. Was Keller connected to his father's suicide, why was no note found...all questions we have no need to ask.
#6. WTF is this all maze rubbish? Right from the poster we're led to expect some kind of maze to appear. The serial killer wears a necklace with a maze on it, Alex says "they're in the maze", Bob is obsessed with drawing mazes, so where's the freaking maze man? When Holly gets Keller to back the car up we think "FINALLY! HERE'S THE MAZE!!! But there's no maze down there, just a big deep hole full of old sneakers and dead snakes. No maze, not even a sniff of one. The only maze-related thing as it turns out, is a puzzle book that Leo forces the kids to do while they're kidnapped, presumably traumatizing them with their inability to solve simple puzzles. It might just as well have been Sudoku really, but that might have looked weird on a necklace...
#7. And finally, the pointless sub-plot. Just WHAT is the purpose and meaning behind Keller's kidnap and torture of Alex? It has no real purpose other than to provide a weirdly amoral counterpoint to the other story (which would have been so much better emphasized if we'd seen anything of the girls' captivity), and leaves us confused and kind of weirdly angry with the guy. Alex is an innocent child and Keller has tortured him almost to death, so what does that make him? A villain? An anti-hero? A misguided vigilante? No-one seems to care if we know, so we end up drawing no conclusion at all and Keller ends up as a shapeless figure that we ultimately care little about.
Ultimately my feeling was that this could have been a good film, if only someone with experience and a keen eye had been brought in to work on the script and iron out the many flaws. The cinematography and the score was great, and it's a testament to the director and actors that the movie was still highly watchable despite the glaring plot holes and confusing storytelling, but on the whole it was a disappointing and frustrating experience and not one I'd recommend.
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