14A) Prisoners (TIFF 2013)
Warner Bros Pictures.
Running Time: 153 Minutes.
4 stars out of 4.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s film Prisoners screened at the this years Toronto International Film Festival, and I was fortunate enough to attend a screening, where Villeneuve introduced the film. Prisoners is modern day filmmaking at its best. Prisoners tells the story of two families lives, after there two daughters are kidnapped on thanksgiving, and what parents will do to find out what happened to there children. Prisoners is a sad, effective, and very well crafted film, that features career best performances from Hugh Jackman and Jack Gyllenhal. Prisoners deals with a very difficult subject matter, and although the premise may seem familiar, but screenwriter Aaron Gusikowski keeps things interesting, and suspenseful, and leaves you at the edge of your seat throughout the entire film. Although many would expect Prisoners to be a generic studio thriller, Denis Villeneuve exceeds expectations with this smart, entertaining, thrilling, and very disturbing film. Prisoners is one of the best films of the year.
Prisoners is a gripping, edge of your seat, entertaining, smart, and well executed film that deserves to be remembered during awards season. Going into the film, I had high expectations because although the trailer shows a lot (of the first half) of the film it looked very interesting, and I was curious if Canadian directed Denise Villeneueve would try to tell an original story about a childs kidnapping. Also, director Denise Villeneueve directed 2011’s Oscar Nominated Incendies, which received critical acclaim. My expectations were exceeded because the trailers lead you to believe that the film is only about the aftermath of two children’s kidnapping, and the questions trying to be solved are, Who, What, Where, When, Why, How? But, the film is really about parents who take the law into their own hands, and how far people will go to find out the truth about what happened to there children. Yes, Prisoners might be considered predictable, but the execution of the plot in the third act makes up for that, with its sudden plot twist, that will leave the audience anxious for what happens next.
The acting in the film is outstanding, and the ensemble that Villeneueve has created is great. Hugh Jackman is great as religious, violent, and questionable Keller, who takes the law into his own hands, and will not give up the search for his daughter. Although, throughout most of the film he is very violent and angry, and this made me feel that although he is very good, he is giving a Wolverine type performance. I wish that his character had been more developed, and the writing would have been stronger and given the audience more insight for Kellers actions. Jack Gylenhall is very good as Detective Loki(we never got first name), and throughout the film you are with him, as he tries endlessly to find Hannah and Joy. We never find out anything about character, and I liked that because it added suspense, and didn’t take you away from the films main story.
Prisoners deserves to be remembered for its screenplay and acting come awards season. This is more than a genre film, but a film about peoples morals, I admire director Denise Villeneuve for keeping the film suspenseful throughout its 2 and a half hour running time. Until the credits, you are guessing who did it, and you question every character on screen. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the unveiling of the “kidnapper” is done in a smart and extremely satisfying way, and the execution after this is also good.
Although at times, Prisoners substitutes logistics for entertainment, I was captivated by this touching story from start to end, and was very disturbed by the imagery shown. This is an excellent film, and I highly recommend it.