Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman Enter Darkness of ‘Prisoners’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – What would you do if your child was in jeopardy? We all love to answer quickly and instinctually that we would do absolutely anything but the fact is that we’re incredibly lucky to never be put in that situation. Would you torture someone else? What if you weren’t sure they were responsible? “Prisoners” is a film about a man who believes the only way back to safety and light is through pain and darkness. It’s a harrowing, excellent piece of work, narratively inconsistent in the final act but a film for which all flaws are easily overlooked by incredible technical accomplishments and an ensemble of performers doing close to the best work of their careers. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

Remarkably so given its 150-minute-plus running time, “Prisoners” wastes absolutely no time on set-up. There’s one piece of overture to this dark symphony, a scene of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) hunting with his son Ralph (Dylan Minnette). Keller is a hunter, a survivalist, a man who thinks it entirely possible that the day will come when his skills to save himself and his family will come into crucial play. It’s a brief moment but an important one in the arc of the character and the journey he is about to take.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Social Network” in our reviews section.

It starts on Thanksgiving as the Dover family, including Keller, Ralph, Grace (Maria Bello), and Anna (Erin Gerasimovich), are breaking bread with friends and neighbors, Franklin (Terrence Howard), Nancy (Viola Davis), Eliza (Zoe Borde), and Joy Birch (Kyla Drew Simmons). Anna & Eliza run home to get the former’s red whistle and fail to return. Older siblings Ralph & Joy tell their parents that they spotted the kids near an RV parked in their neighborhood and the cops are soon informed of the same. Before he can finish his holiday Chinese food, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is pulling his weapon on the vehicle, parked in the corner of a rain-soaked lot.

Its driver, the mentally handicapped Alex (Paul Dano), is pulled from the car and interrogated for hours. He doesn’t seem to have the capability to kidnap two girls without a shred of physical evidence in his RV and dispose of their bodies in such a short amount of time. The cops are forced to let him go, returning him to the care of his Aunt Holly (Melissa Leo). Through a series of clues, Keller becomes convinced that not only is Alex responsible but that he’s the only one who now knows where his daughter could still be alive. He takes action.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Prisoners” review.

“Prisoners” stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Dylan Minnette, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo. It was directed by Denis Villeneuve. It is rated R and opens on September 20, 2013.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

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