Sunday, January 19, 2014

RBR: Prisoners

Similar to last year's End of Watch, Jake Gyllenhaal has come out with a thriller that probably deserved more awards recognition than it has received. This year, it's Prisoners, a tense, twisty kidnapping drama that will keep you invested all the way through. Gyllenhaal plays a detective who's put it upon himself to investigate the abduction of two little girls. Unlike in End of Watch Gyllenhaal is probably the weak link here. He gives a rather mannered performance complete with heavy blinking and glowering that causes you to pay too much attention to him. The more compelling performance comes from Hugh Jackman who plays the father of one of the two kidnapped girls. Jackman plays a survivalist family man who becomes hellbent on finding out who took his little girl. Fairly early on he becomes convinced that they were taken by Paul Dano, who perfectly plays the creepy guy that would make anyone believe he's the prime suspect. Dano is discovered driving an RV that the girls were playing nearby when they were last seen. Jackman goes to extreme lengths to prove Dano is guilty even after the police move on in their investigation. The actions of Jackman produce some uncomfortable questions that will stick with you long after the movie is finished. Besides Jackman and Gyllenhaal, the film is filled with an all star supporting cast that includes Terrence Howard as the father of the other abducted girl, Viola Davis and Maria Bello as the two mothers, and Melissa Leo, who plays Dano's aunt. With several characters and twists aplenty, the film keeps you guessing as to who is really behind this evil crime. While I correctly pegged the victim early on, the film did a nice job of making me constantly second guess myself. I should also point out the incredible cinematography of the film. The look of the film is nicely atmospheric. I don't normally pay attention to something like that, but since it was so noticeable here, I looked at who the cinematographer was and it turned out to be Roger Deakins, who did Skyfall. It's no wonder I took notice of it. Deakins who was nominated for his work on Skyfall has once again been nominated this year for his work on this film. Like most thrillers, this one does have its issues in terms of some plot holes. If you find yourself getting caught up in the story, however, you're likely not to care. It also could have been a bit tighter. With a runtime of 2 and half hours, it drags out the final act longer than it needed too. Still, this is a solid thriller that deserves to be seen if you missed it in theaters. Although given its subject matter I don't know how well parents will appreciate the film's difficult storyline. But if you're simply in the mood for a good psychological drama, this one is one of the best from 2013. Rating: **** 1/2

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