“Prisoners” Review

Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve directs this crime thriller about the kidnapping of two 6-year old girls. Executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, this film features an A-list cast of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano. With a production budget of 46 million dollars, Prisoners opened at #1 at the box office at 21.4 million.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a relatively solid performance as Detective Loki, however, he is overshadowed by Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Keller Dover, a survivalist father who is faced with the moral dilemma of how far he should go to protect his family. In my opinion this is one of Jackman’s best performances. Paul Dano is also fantastic with his quiet portrayal of a mentally handicapped man accused of kidnapping the children. While none of the other performances stand out, all of the big-name actors are given a lot to do and are all very good. If nothing else, the performances in this movie are worth the price of admission.

The movie itself is also very well made. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I had a couple problems with the editing and transitions between scenes, but these problems are minor and pretty subjective. The movie seems to move with a slow deliberateness that builds up the tension until it reaches a peak, resulting in remarkably intense moments several times throughout the film.
Prisoners has a 2 and a half hour run time, and while you’re never bored or waiting for it to end, its length and the amount of drama certainly takes its toll. While the script is very strong and the story is very powerful, it could certainly be tightened up. Without spoiling too much, there is specific emphasis placed on certain elements near the middle of the film that end up having very little to do with the rest of the story. And while I loved the bittersweetness and uncertainty in the final shot of the film, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the rest of the ending. The villain frankly lacked the necessary motivation to make the movie seem complete.

On the whole, this is a great film. The performances are wonderful. The film is incredibly tense. And while it’s a bit long, it’s never a chore to watch. While it’s not a perfect film, it’s one I would definitely recommend. 8/10.

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