Skip to main content

Review: Prisoners


There is nothing more horrifying than having your child being taken from you. It's not just the loss of your child, but the destruction of family and the promise of the future. Few people come back whole from the experience and others wish it was them taken instead.

The recent events involving Ariel Castro sent a chill down the spines of parents everywhere and director Denis Villeneuve taps into this primal fear for his follow-up feature to 2011's Best Foreign feature nominee, Incendies. Few crimes motivate such rage and vigilante justice like child abduction and where Prisoners will tread, few may make the journey without finding darkness within themselves.

During a Thanksgiving get together between two families, a pleasant dinner shared between friends with music and football on in the background. This happy mood (the last of the film's 153 minute runtime) pocket is punctured when the unthinkable happens, both the Anna Dover and Joy Birch go missing. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) ransack the neighborhood looking for their young daughters, finding only despair when neither child is found.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) has a perfect case record, every case that has hit his desk has been solved. He arrests a driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), based on the sole lead - he owns the beaten and brokedown R.V. parked on the street the girls were playing on, but a lack of evidence forces Loki to release the suspect. His bullshit radar is going through the roof, but there are no legal channels to keep him. As Loki races to find alternatives, panic takes over the Dover household as all of the police evidence evaporates into a series of dead ends.

Options dwindle as each day ticks by and Keller becomes increasingly erratic in his desperate search for an answer. His faith in civil institutions has failed him and the brunt of finding Anna has more than taken its toll on Keller. If he's going to get answers, then Alex will have to provide them.

Villenueve balances the thriller aspect of the story with large helpings of character focus creating a feature that is both transfixing and more than a little unnerving. Obsession is rarely depicted authentically on film, but when it is done right (the film draws favorable comparisons to David Fincher's Zodiac and Seven) it is hard to watch the brutal lengths that will inevitaby follow. Aiding Villenueve in crafting the story is Roger Deakins, the master lenser behind such works as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Skyfall. Deakins captures predator-like p.o.v.s whirling around the characters, but leaving just enough room in the half-veiled shots to let doubt linger.

The lines which we set as a civilized society disappear when we are hit in our homes; just exactly how far will a father go to protect his child? Hugh Jackman, no stranger to rage as evidenced by his six performances as Wolverine, boils over into territory rarely seen before. He very well may have just found the role of a lifetime. Rounding out the rest of the excellent ensemble are Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard as the parents and Paul Dano as the man who last saw their children.

Loki is just as hardened as Keller, but where Jackman's character is resolute in his convictions, Gyllenhaal has doubts in others and himself. Treading through a dark terrain, trying to save others, Gyllenhaal matches Jackman note for note in his performance as Detective Loki. Both characters could have been standard pieces from thrillers like Taken, but both parts are elevated by their respective leading men.

If the haunted portrayals don't keep you arrested in your seat, the story will.

Popular posts from this blog

Herman Melville and Office Space

Just from gleaning the surface of Office Space one would assume that there isn't anything simmering below the surface except for a raunchy work-comedy, but they would be wrong.
After the harsh critical reception of his greatest work Moby Dick Melville wrote a collection of short stories called Bartleby and Benito Cereno perhaps the greatest slam at the time against industrial America. Bartleby is the story of a Wall Street copyist who has his three employees proof-read and copy law forms. Shortly into the story Bartleby starts responding to work commands with, "I would prefer not to." Frustrated by his employee's subordination the Narrator tries to have him fired but Bartleby refuses to leave the office. The Narrator comes back the following morning to find Bartleby living inside his office. Bartleby becomes increasingly less apt to perform basic functions as eating after he is jailed for trespassing and dies in a jail cell. What at once starts out as a comedy has …

Paprika vs. Inception

Months before Inception hit the theaters forums were alive with rumors that Christopher Nolan either accidentally or intentionally stole some details from another film, the Japanese anime Paprika. The biggest point of comparison for some bloggers and forum runners was the fact that both of the films featured a device that allowed a person, or people, to travel into another’s dreams and delve into their subconscious.
Minor points of comparison include scenes in Paprika where the character Paprika breaks through a mirrored wall by holding her hand to it, as well as a scene where a police detective falls his way down a hallway. Claims have been made that Inception abounds with imagery similar to or exactly like the anime movie, but with the recent release of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, and with Paprika available for several years now, an examination of the two plots can be made more fully.
Let us begin with the primary claim—Inception stole the idea of a dream machine from Paprika. It …

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare Giveaway

We’re not playing the game, it’s playing us! A harmless game of "Truth or Dare" among friends turns deadly when someone--or something--begins to punish those who tell a lie--or refuse the dare. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, opening in theaters Friday the 13th! To celebrate the release of this terrifying new film we have a Truth or Dare giveaway for readers. Play the app below with a friend and take the Truth or Dare challenge to see who survives. To enter, tag a friend you'd bring along to the film to @wordsbycbiggs on Twitter and use the #TruthOrDareMovie hashtag. One lucky winner will receive a prize pack, which includes: 1 - Limited Edition Truth or Dare Card Game: This limited edition Truth or Dare Game is only available via this promotion and has a run of 200 pieces worldwide. It has a card deck featuring dares and the creepy crawly items you need to satisfy the dares in the deck. Test your resolve… The truth will set you free! 1 - Truth or Dare Official Promo Tank - O…