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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
Bridget is a film student who looks deeper at television and film, providing reviews, insights, and more.
Prisoners Review
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About this blog
By Bridget LaMonica

Bridget is a Media Communication and Technology grad from East Stroudsburg University. She is now continuing her education with a graduate program in Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art & Design. Bridget loves television and ...

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On the Tube: TV Reviews and More

Bridget is a Media Communication and Technology grad from East Stroudsburg University. She is now continuing her education with a graduate program in Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art & Design. Bridget loves television and movies, and is always annoying her friends when watching the tube because she frequently asks “How did they do that?” or making predictions on whether a TV show will live past its first season. In order to avoid this habit, she now keeps this blog.

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By Bridget LaMonica
Sept. 29, 2013 4:24 p.m.



Prisoners was one of those films where I see the trailer and I'm instantly intrigued. "Hmm," I think. "That could be interesting." The premise looked good, the actors of course looked good, and the story appeared like it might have a twist.

And I was delightfully surprised to find this film top even those expectations. 

Prisoners turns out to be genius filmmaking in a time when we've gotten sick of the same tried-and-true cookie cutter renditions of this or that story.

The film revolves equally around the Dover and Birch families and Detective Loki. The Dover and Birch families are thrown into the worst situation they could ever imagine---their little girls Anna and Joy have been kidnapped right off the street. They had only been going to the Dover household to look for Anna's lost red whistle. After they've disappeared, the family recalls a dirty and beatup RV that had been sitting in front of the house. Surely this must be the kidnapper.

Prisoners wastes no time. The RV and the man inside, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), are found at a gas station within minutes. Alex Jones is taken into custody immediately after a really suspicious attempt to escape. While being questioned, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is frustrated by the fact that Alex is very simple--he's got the IQ of a ten year old, and probably some other disorders that make it impossible to tell what he knows if he even knows anything. Alex becomes a character that is equally revulsive and pitiable, as father of Anna, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) hears the man whisper: "They didn't cry until I left them." No one else hears this, and Keller goes on a personal vendetta to expose what information Alex may know.

The tale twists from the righteous search for a kidnapper to a morally gray world in which people will do whatever it takes to save the lives of two missing girls. Not much more can be said plot-wise without giving some seriously juicy details away, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

The theme of mazes becomes important. Soon, mazes appear everywhere, especially when it comes to one suspect.

The villain(s)--that's right, that plural is intended. We have some excellent kidnapping suspects, although the story does make it seem like Pennsylvania--the setting--is rather full of these perps.

The red whistle. Not just a way to get the girls kidnapped. That's all I'm saying.

Complicated protagonists. Even the seemingly righteous fathers of the missing girls will do some things that raise your eyebrows and make you wonder at what people are willing to do in such a situation. 

I give major kudos to director Denis Villeneuve for the great performances he got from these actors and the excellent pacing of the story. Also kudos to cinematographer Roger Deakins for making me uneasy in each innocent little frame. And to screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski for not going the easy way out and providing a story that not only makes you think, but makes you question what you'd do in such a situation.

If you're deciding what you'd like to see at the movie theater, consider this one. Psychological and intense, it's a film that will grip you tight and leave you thinking long after leaving the theater.

 

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