In theatres this Friday from director Denis Villeneuve, Entertainment One and Warner Bros. is what happens when trauma makes us all PRISONERS.
This film tells the story of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Grace (Maria Bello). A hard working middle class couple living with daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and son Ralph (Dylan Minnette).
For Thanksgiving the Dover’s take a brief jaunt up the street to have dinner with Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) and his wife Nancy (Viola Davis) and with two daughters Eliza (Zoe Borde) and Joy (Kyla Simmons).
Anna and Eliza are good friends and want to run back to the Dover’s house to look for some toys. Everyone in a jovial mood the parents tell the girls yes and to come right back. As some time passes everyone discovers that the little girls have not returned and a neighborhood search begins.
Ralph and Joy tell the parents that earlier they saw a camper and now it seems to be gone. Immediately the information is relayed to Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), a cop who is focused and intense. Assuring the parents that his record stood for no crime unsolved he will get the girls back.
As a strange turn of events happen, the police find the camper and inside is Alex Jones (Paul Dano), an emotionally strange young man and no sign of the girls in the camper. Detective Loki talks with Holly Jones (Melissa Leo) to figure out of her son Alex has problems.
Fearing Jones will be released without the girls being found Dover sets in motion a turn of events that he believes will ensure that the girls are found. As Detective Loki jumps from lead to lead nothing is as it seems.
This is deeper than any of them could possibly have imagined.
FINAL WORD: Jackman as Dover is a complete madman but does so with moments of calm that are frightening. Seriously, I would take a rant and a guy throwing things more than an angry guy who becomes calm and focused! There are moments when this is absolutely the case with Jackman. This is a character who is very intelligent but also ruled by fear. There is intense and then there is Jackman’s character Dover!
Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki has an air of someone with the characteristics of Asperger’s. His response to situations is unlike what the audience might expect and his rapid and deep eye blinking are noticeable. He is singularly focused and seems unaffected by the emotions from the family members in the sense that he cannot relate. It is that focus however that pushes this character ever forward.
Bello as Grace, although playing Anna’s mother, spends most of her time with Uncle Vallie – knocked out letting everyone else figure this out. She wants to wake up to the world she fell asleep to and I get that.
Howard as Franklin is a man devastated by his daughter’s disappearance. When it comes time to join Jackman’s character in their own plan of action (no, I’m not going further into that because its an experience!) – he falls further into a madness that no parent should ever have to go.
Davis as Nancy is equal to Howard’s character in the devastation but that’s where it ends. She may be a quiet woman but when push comes to shove she will also do whatever it takes to find her daughter alive. There is a such a depth and duality to her character that is stellar, but its Viola Davis so although thrilled I am not surprised.
Leo as Holly Jones proves some actresses don’t sit on their Academy Award laurels. Her performance is brilliant, amazingly brilliant! Never being afraid to shun glamour she once again grabs a role and lets her stellar acting do the talking. Yes, I am in awe.
Dano as Alex – wow! There are so many aspects to his character that there will be jaws dropping in the theatre. What a performance by this actor who is responsible for such roles in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, LET THERE BE BLOOD, MEEK’S CUTOFF and my personal favorite RUBY SPARKS. Every performance I have seen this actor do is like a gem with so many brilliant sides and THAT is good acting to me.
Other cast include: Wayne Duvall as Captain Richard O’Malley, Len Cariou as Father Patrick Dunn, David Dastmalchian as Bob Taylor, Brad James as Officer Carter, Robert Mello as Roger, Jeff Pope as Elliot Milland and Sandra Lafferty as Mrs. Milland.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PRISONERS four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is an amazing film with its twists, turns, plot shocks and cast. The cinematography is gray and gritty bringing a rawness that is heaped onto the audience who is already burdened with this heavy story. This is hardly a bad thing, instead it brings the audience into the story to help look for clues not giving a moments rest in the films 153 minutes of intensity.
There is no razzle-dazzle-3d-cgi-superhero-vampire-six-part-snooze-fest but instead a film that I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time. Each actor in this film puts so much into their character yet never pulled my focus which was thrilling for me. It can be hard to watch in some scenes but that calls to the question the film is asking the audience.
In the end – how far would you go to protect your family!
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