PRISONERS (2013) : REVIEW

October 8, 2013

"This guy's a fake. Those girls are still out there somewhere."
First thing to say : the trailer pretty much said it all. Two girls were kidnapped in Thanksgiving and their parents did whatever it took to get them back. It sounded really simple, I admit, but after seeing it (with a little expectation-coated judgement caused by early reviews and rates which were and still are HIGH), it was far beyond that. So, how was it?



Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), his wife Grace (Maria Bello), his son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) were visiting his friendly suburban neighbour, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), his wife Nancy (Viola Davis) and his two daughters Eliza (Zoe Borde) and Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) for a humble Thanksgiving dinner. Things were going well and heart-warming, until Anna and Joy went missing out of the blue. Worried, the families called the police and was handled by the veteran detective who never failed a case, named Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). They suspected a mysterious RV parked near the scene and was soon to be discovered that the RV was owned by a strange man named Alex Jones (Paul Dano). Unfortunately, there were no physical evidence discovered that led Alex as a suspect. The dreadful event was turning both families' life upside down, forcing them to act beyond humanity as they began to reveal more and more to its story.

Have you ever watched Liam Neeson's "Taken"? Well, the formula was pretty much similar, but this one was far more complex, more complicated, with no excessive amount of chasing and fist-to-fist action. The French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve was keeping everything real by carefully constructed the plot, giving us a full 2 and a half hours of dreadful silent and terror, topped with nearly-constant tension and dilemmas. There was no single wasted-scenes; they were all intriguing and enganging in sort of slow, devastating way, which intriguingly (step by step) completing the whole maze. Aaron Guzikowsky's script was unbelievably rich and twisted, completed with smart dialogues and gripping revelations led to a creative wrap-up. But hey, we were still allowed to breathe, even in the most dreadful moments. Cinematographically, Roger Deakins delivered a top-notch, dreary and mournfully quiet greyish panoramas, reminding us how panicking the event was and how not-knowing-the-whereabouts were killing us inside. Especially with the help of Johann Johannsson's haunting notes. There you have it, a 2.5 hours full of pee-holding and question marks.

Multi-dimensional, deepened and compelling characters were the key here. Davis, Howard, and Dano were fascinating as side dishes, but the true heroines here were Jackman and Gyllenhaal. Jackman outdid his two best performances as Valjean and that-mutant; this probably was his best performance yet. He was so believable, so real, that we were fond of him, giving him the biggest sympathy as he became more brutal yet more vulnerable. But personally, I think Gyllenhaal was the best act here; he was determined, controlling yet soft, especially with that twitching and sunken eyes. Brava.

Finally said, WATCH IT. There.



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