‘Prisoners’ Movie Review

Hugh Jackman at his most captivating

Thanks to Roadshow Films, we had the chance to seePrisoners before its Australian release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film, because there is no better critic than yourself!

Prisoners3When two little girls are kidnapped in broad daylight, their families express their grief in different ways. Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) hope that the police will do their best to bring their little girl back, but Keller and Grace Dover (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) go crazy with grief and fear for the worst. Keller has no faith in the police, and when a suspect is arrested and released due to lack of evidence, the furious father snaps.

Prisoners2Keller decides to take matters into his own hands and he kidnaps the suspicious and creepy suspect (Paul Dano). This guy obviously knows more than he’s willing to admit, but even when Keller decides to torture him until he talks, the kid still doesn’t say a word. What terrible secret does Alex have to hide that he is not telling his abductor what he knows, even when he is being put through gruelling torture? Unfortunately we’ll never find out, and that is one of the flaws in this otherwise rather impressive movie.

The policeman in charge of the investigation is detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). Unfortunately for the victims and their families, Loki is not quite a switched-on investigator, and he continuously fails to connect the dots and interpret the hints and clues given to him. Even when he tries to do good, he runs into a wall of bureaucracy with his useless superior Captain Richard O’Malley (Wayne Duvall).

Prisoners4It very soon becomes clear that the disappearance of the little girls is related to other abductions that happened many years ago under very similar circumstances, and with policemen like Loki and O’Malley in charge it is no wonder that the perpetrators have never been found.

Although Gyllenhaal plays his part well, his detective Loki still comes across as confident where he’s actually clumsy. The whole cast is good with great performances by Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and a scary Paul Dano. French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve does a great job keeping the suspense and intensity throughout the movie and the cinematography by Roger Deakins is unsettling and impressive. But this really is Hugh Jackman’s movie. The charismatic Aussie delivers one of his strongest performances ever, and it is hard to see one of Hollywood’s most likeable leading men do such terrible things.

Prisoners’ really is a study of the demise of Keller Dover. This righteous man wants to do the right thing, but he is so swallowed up by grief that he is no longer able to judge his own actions. What he does, he does not just out of revenge, but even more so out of frustration and despair. All along Jackman keeps his portrayal of this anguished character compelling, and although most viewers would disapprove of his action,s he manages to keep the viewer feeling sorry for him throughout the film. This nerve-racking thriller is surprisingly bleak for Hollywood-standards but it’s still highly recommendable, mainly because of Jackman’s amazing tour de force.