I have been putting off writing this review because I have mixed feelings about Prisoners. A friend and I saw it a few days ago at a Cineworld pre-screening and I was expecting an exciting, tense thriller/drama. I came out of the cinema feeling pretty depressed and unsure whether it was a pleasant experience at all.
The subject matter should have given it away really, “When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?” (IMDB) Bleak doesn’t even begin to cover it. What the description should have said is “Most depressing film ever“. Safe to say it isn’t an enjoyable experience but I can’t deny that it’s a great film…
Keller is played by Hugh Jackman, a different role than I have seen before and surprisingly not very likable. He is aggressive and quite frightening in the search for his missing daughter. When one of the main suspects is released from the police station he takes it upon himself to imprison said suspect and attempts to beat the truth out of him. Jackman acts his butt off on his emotional roller-coaster and yes I did feel for his character in some parts… I say some because I don’t necessarily agree with his actions which negated the pity I had previously felt.
In the meantime, Detective Loki is on the hunt for the missing girls, apparently he has solved every case he’s been on so the pressure is on! Jake Gyllenhaal gives a fantastic performance here making Loki a very compelling character. He’s got his weird ticks and clearly has an interesting back story but unfortunately it is never explored. I wanted to see more of this character but understand that the story wasn’t really about him, (but it probably should have been!).
A pretty weak supporting character came in the form of Terrence Howard as the other abductee’s father – I didn’t care for him. But Viola Davis and Maria Bello gave good grieving mother performances. As well as Dylan Minnette playing Keller’s very frightened looking son. The main pat on the back though goes to Paul Dano playing the suspect and victim of Keller’s rampage. Very subtle and engaging performance from him, you never know whether to despise or feel sorry for his character Alex which makes the torture a confusing watch!!
The plot dangles a few carrots here and there and juggles some red herrings but nothing that felt particularly exciting. It all happens quite slowly in the 2 and a half hours it drags on for, and not in the beautiful arty way that Aint Them Bodies Saints plodded along – more like there could have been a lot more scenes on the cutting room floor. The loose ends do get tied up which should have felt like a great reveal – unfortunately by this time I had made my own mind up as to what had happened so I found the actual reveal a little disappointing in comparison and the ending left me feeling pretty frustrated!
I know deep down that Prisoners was well written, brilliantly acted and cleverly shot. But I just can’t shake the feeling I had when I left the cinema, it wasn’t a good experience for me but I can see why others would come away thinking it was brilliant.
My POV, if you enjoyed films like Seven Pounds, The Road, Requiem For a Dream or Never Let Me Go (probably the most depressing films I can think of on the spot) then this film is for you! Otherwise, I would avoid it.
PS. Remind me never to go to that part of America, it literally did not stop raining.