Prisoners – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

prisonersPrisoners – 4/5 – Suspense thrillers are a dime a dozen.  With so many out there, the dilution of the shock and twist films creates a sense of predictability, even if the movie has good potential.  With that being said, there are some suspense films that come along and stands on it’s own.  This happens because of distinction brought to the suspense which adds a value that may provides a shock you might not expect.  Prisoners is that kind of suspense thriller that injects realism into its tense moments that, you will be gripped by the performances and twist till the end.  Overall, Prisoners is a surprise hit amongst a litter of suspense thrillers.

Premise: When two young girls go missing, two families fall into disarray.  Within this emotion, the father of one of the children (Keller Dover) decides to take matters into his own hands, while the police pursue multiple leads into the case.  As the pressure mounts, truths will be revealed, and everything that they may know about the case will lead to an even more shocking revelation.

This film is littered with a who’s who of famed actors/actresses.  For the main characters, we have the parents affected by this abduction.  In these roles we have Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello as Keller and Grace Dover, and Terrence Howard and Viola Davis as Franklin and Nancy Birch respectfully.  These four do wonderful jobs in the roles, providing a down-to-earth quality that is both surreal and riveting.  The emotional aspect is very ‘in your face’, causing you to feel their pain in losing their daughters.  As you watch the four interact with each other and others in the film, you watch as they emotionally and psychological break down.  This creates a humanistic perspective because they go beyond normal avenues to get any information by any means necessary.  Out of the three, Hugh Jackman is the best in his role of Keller Dover.  The distraught he feels is so powerful, that for the ‘things’ he does and actions he performs are cringing and shocking, but felt necessary.  He is in a deep crazed state after the abduction, bringing out a true fatherly quality throughout the film.  His commandment on screen is wonderful, and you feel his pain the most (out of the three).   Along with the main cast, you have great secondary characters.  You have Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki, Paul Dano as suspect Alex Jones and Sandra Ellis Lafferty as Mrs. Milland.  These three are both individualistic but riveting in their supporting roles, providing elements of intriguing and adding to the darken tone of the film.  Gyllenhall is the main detective to the case and watching his paralleling story helps provide a separate perspective.  He is focused and calculated, and has an understanding to let things fall into place to solve the abduction case.  He is very precise in his questioning, and he provides a real gripping intelligence that helps provides another humbling side in not taking things at face value.   The other two (as mentioned above) are both riveting to the story, but play more towards being plot devices more than deep characters.

The film follows the path of most suspense thrillers.  That path goes as followed:

Introduce bases of conflict

Pieces of the puzzle along a trail

Pieces leads to shocking climax

Eventful ending

The film follows this path to the tee.  Even if the film follows this generic path, it is beyond a generic film.  This is because of the story elements, methodical direction and raw acting.  In the beginning, the families are gathering for a dinner.  The kids leave the house, and never return.  This is when we (as the audience) realize the base of conflict is introduced, as the children are abducted.  The secondary characters get introduced (detective, suspect), and we begin our film around this crime.  As the family tries to find ways to live with knowing their children are lost, the Detective (and his supporting police partners) must go through the maze of clues and evidence to pinpoint where the children are and who the culprit is.  Through the bulk of the film, we see a paralleling story; Jackman’s Keller Dover emotional and vengeful path to find the truth and Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki methodical investigation to find that same truth.  This parallel helps bring a layer to the story that is very humbling, mesmerizing and shocking in one tone.  The deep infliction caused to all the characters draws out the humility, as we see people in their deepest darkest moments trying to find reasons for the situation, causing an encapsulation of individual motives, bringing out the thematic layer’s of being a ‘prisoner’ of the situation.  Dover is so focused on the idea that the person found in the RV is the culprit that he goes great and crazed lengths to get the answer from him.  On the other hand, Loki understands the situation is dire, but doesn’t let the emotions cloud reasoning, as he must see the clues as a ‘whole’ and add them together.  As the film follows these paralleling stories, the clues began to fall in place, and there is a sense of predictability starting to form.  Even for the predictability factor, you’re deeply captured by the story and characters, the shock is still revealing even if it is still obvious.   Once the film brings the threads together in the climax, the tone stays steady.  In the end, you see sacrifices be made and the realism of the situations come full circle.

The visuals are very ‘home town’ style of an American area.  This helps add to the realism of the situation created in the film.  With this creation, it feels so much more close to home, that you will have that feeling of ‘it can happen to me’ throughout watching the movie.  The score is conflict of interest.  There isn’t much music, as everything is left to subtlety, that you really never notice it, but the tone is affected by it.

Overall, Prisoners is a gripping ‘realistic’ suspense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The cast is wonderful, the story is raw, and the journey will keep you gripped till the rolling credits.  If you’re a fan of good suspense or thriller film, this is one for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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