Prisoners is a crime thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a deeply religious man who runs a failing carpentry business. On a typical Thanksgiving Day the Dover family spends the day across the street with their close friends and neighbors the Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis). When Joy Birch and Anna Dover go missing the parents search all the “usual places.” When they realize their children are legitimately missing panic sets in for the parents.
The eldest Dover child, Ralph, tells the worried parents that a creepy RV was parked in the neighborhood. Convinced whomever drove the vehicle was the culprit, the families race to find it, unfortunately to no avail. Though Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) eventually arrests the driver of the RV, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), forensic detectives uncover no physical evidence of any wrongdoing. Without a motive or past record they are legally forced to let Alex out of custody. Infuriated by his release, Keller takes matters into his own hands.
Keller takes Alex by gunpoint to an abandoned, apartment building. There he viciously interrogates and tortures him looking for the answers he wants to hear. While Franklin and Nancy Birch condemn Keller’s actions as immoral, they refuse to interrupt the interrogations. The torture scenes bring forth interesting and thought-provoking questions.
How far would you go to save your family member?
Is a hunch sufficient a reason to pervert ones morality?
Additionally, the movie brings forth the discussion of how overly protective should parents be of their children. It’s easy to say that the parents should have watched as the girls were supposed to ask their older siblings to watch them outside. There has to be a level of trust or children will feel suffocated and their upbringing will surely be stunted. Just because your child is abducted, it does not necessarily mean that the parents are careless.
I should note that I didn’t appreciate the depiction of Grace Dover (Maria Bello) as an incapacitated female who drowns her sorrows in prescription pills. It was simply a disappointment to not have a strong female lead in this movie. I felt that the supporting cast was a bit underutilized, especially when you have so much talent on hand.
While they may have been underused, Hugh Jackman gives one of the best performances of his career. I don’t think that is in the slightest an overstatement. This is probably my favorite performance of his. He encompasses the totality of this character to a level of excellence.
Overall, I think this is a great film. It is definitely one of the better movies I have seen this year, especially in theaters. I would highly recommend you watch it. It is worth the price of admission (as many of you know I don’t think many films are). There are some flaws that I simply cannot discuss without detailing the climax of the movie. The ending was not entirely surprising, at least to me, yet still satisfying. That is quite a difficult feat if you think about it. I won’t spoil the ending, but I love the last scene of the movie.
I think if you enjoyed Zodiac (2007) which also starred Gyllenhaal then you will probably enjoy this film.
MPAA Rating: R (violence, language)
Running Time: 153 minutes
My Grade: B+
Do you think Keller’s actions were justified?
Will you be watching this movie?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate