Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Prisoners

Release date: September 20, 2013
Running time: 153 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano
Who to see it with: Fans of dark crime mysteries like Mystic River and Seven


Prisoners is a dark, twisty tale about a small town's search for missing children. The daughters of friendly neighbors Keller and Franklin (Jackman and Howard) go missing during a brief walk between their houses. Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is on the case but can't find many leads aside from one unlikely suspect (Dano), the mentally challenged driver of a mysterious RV who lives simply with a feeble aunt (Melissa Leo). Keller's dissatisfaction with the law's investigation prompts him to seek answers in less legal ways.

Prisoners often feels like a well-made but standard crime thriller. Keller's horrific investigative tactics are the story's most unique element and provide a complex moral dilemma, though that dilemma is only briefly explored. Maybe less time should have been spent on the pursuit of red herrings and more used to further detail his acceptance of such desperate measures and its impact upon others, a surprising thought when the movie is already two and a half hours long. Still, the acting and cast are good, including a creepy guy played by an actor with the dubious honor of looking like he was born to play creepy guys. Jackman is understandable but disturbing and Gyllenhaal's cop is rough and seasoned without seeming like a tough guy stereotype. The others are good in limited roles, but I wish more time was spent with Davis and Howard's characters. The case remains interesting and fast-paced despite the long running time, and tension is high as you watch Keller work and follow people into dark basements and home invasions. Good acting, suspense and a bit of moral complexity improve Prisoners' decent mystery.

See it.

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