Prisoners

When two children go missing on the outskirts of a suburban community, a mysterious RV camper parked on the street is immediately suspected as a possible connection.

If you’ve ever seen French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s film Incendies (2010), you will know just how skillful he is with stories that take you on endlessly puzzling journeys and come to totally unexpected and shocking conclusions. Well, Prisoners (2013), Villeneuve’s first big budget Hollywood project is no exception and leaves you with that same disturbing impact at the end.

The film is reminiscent of other child abduction films like Without a Trace (1983) and Gone Baby Gone (2007), while adding some elements of Taken (2008) with the addition of a vigilante father who conducts his own search and rescue mission. 

In this particular case there are few likely suspects who may or may not have some connection to the crime. The father of one of the kidnapped children, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), is a very high strung paranoid type, who prides himself on being prepared for any emergency survival scenario. But in his frantic attempt to find his daughter we don’t know if he is helping or hindering the investigation.

The audience is kept as much in the dark as the detectives and parents are, while searching for and agonizing over the whereabouts of the two young girls and who is capable of such an unthinkable act.

It’s an extremely sensitive subject in today’s society where children go missing almost on a regular basis and are very seldom found alive if they are found at all. The case of Madeleine McCann, abducted while vacationing in Portugal, is one of the more high profile examples in which the girl has still not been found and where investigators focus sometimes mistakenly on the parents.

The first rate cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as the weary perplexed officer Loki assigned to the case, bringing an appropriately calm and unnervingly restrained performance to the role. And Hugh Jackman plays his character with understandable desperation as he takes matters into his own hands when he feels the authorities are not doing enough to find his daughter. 

The movie centers on these two characters with very different mentalities and who use very different methods to reach their goals. One represents the rational analytical approach, the other is driven by his emotions and the certain knowledge that time is quickly running out if they hope to recover the children alive.

The movie felt a little on the long side at two and a half hours and lead us down a maze of false paths, or are they? We never know for sure which one of the two is on the right track. The surprising shock ending is well worth the wait and explains many of the questions we the audience and the characters puzzled over throughout the film.

This gripping drama unfolds at a deliberately steady pace, shot by Roger Deakins with a grim grey rainy look that gives a constant oppressive feeling as we see the suffering of all involved. I felt in expert hands as the film moves from one tension filled moment to the next and it was never boring. 

JP

1 comment:

BroHawk92 said...

Interesting review. I haven't seen any of the films by this director, however, the story seems very griping. As a parent, I tend to shy away from movies about abducting kids, however, the stories are always interesting.

Thank you for sharing!