Saturday, September 21, 2013

Prisoners: Movie Review

Two suspenseful approaches to one dark crime.

It’s Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania and the sky is gray, the air is cold and the ground is frozen. Two families, perfectly matched, celebrate the holiday together. Each family has two kids, a teenager and a younger daughter. The daughters are 6-year-old girls, ready to get into a harmless adventure, and the teenagers are teenagers. But the girls go missing, and on we go to find them and figure out what happened. 2013

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Screenplay by: Aaron Guzikowski

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal

The families have no luck and soon enough the police are there to help. The lead investigator is Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the one father, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), already has his suspicions that he’s not going to be useful at all. I think now is as good a time as any to declare that Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki is one of the most fascinating detectives to watch, and arguably one of the best performances of a detective ever. I want him on every case. Even though Loki is arguably fictional, just call Gyllenhaal and he'll get the job done.

Keller disagrees because he already has his prime suspect and any decent detective would torture him until he revealed the location of the missing girls. Unfortunately the prime suspect, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), is mentally disabled and likely incapable of committing such a serious crime.

“Prisoners” is a good movie because it takes two different approaches to try to get to the same result. Keller takes matters into his own hands to track down the kidnapper and the missing girls. And Detective Loki actively tries to solve the case using clues, evidence, ability and motive. Loki is really on his own with Keller against his every move and a boss which won’t budge on formalities. Keller, on the other hand, shouldn’t be alone, he has a wife who needs his support, a teenage son left to deal with a tragedy on his own, and a similarly suffering best friend. He turns from all of them except the latter to take care of the case on his own.

The farther that our two active participants get in opposite directions, the more that needs to be solved. And “Prisoners” spends two and a half hours leading us down a twisting, suspenseful path during a bleak November in a Pennsylvanian suburb. The atmosphere can be a little oppressive, each dead end can seem daunting, but it keeps the suspense up and there's always Detective Loki around to make sure we're on the right path.
Best of 2013