Friday, September 27, 2013


Film: Prisoners

Starring: Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch)

Director: Denis Villeneuve (Incendies)

U.S. Release: September 20th, 2013 (Rated R)

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 153 minutes

After hitting the festival circuit over the past month and a half, Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners has found it's way into general release. Being that the feature grossed north of $20 million in its opening weekend, there's no doubt that anticipation was high for the crime-drama which stars talents such as Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal. But rather than meeting or even exceeding expectations, Prisoners flounders around aimlessly for its entire two and a half hour duration.

Keller Dover (played by Hugh Jackman) is a devout christian and loyal patriarch to his wife and two children. After spending Thanksgiving dinner with the Birch family, Keller's young daughter and her friend go missing. But when Detective Loki's (Jake Gyllenhaal) investigation yields no results, Keller is forced to take matters into his own hands to try and find some answers to his daughter's disappearance.

Life is full of let-downs. Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners is an overly-ambitious and vastly underwhelming addition to life's long list of disappointments. This style of film is always a difficult sell and both Hugh Jackman and his onscreen wife, Maria Bello, force-feed the dramatics by over-acting on multiple levels. Alongside a sub-par showing from the film's cast, Prisoners remains far too predictable to warrant such a lofty running time. I'm no detective, nor do I try to be. However, while attempting to let the movie come to me, the screenplay failed to mask significant clues in the story. I figured out the ending about 40 minutes in and sitting through the remainder of the film became an almost unbearable feat. Those shortcomings, in conjunction with cliche characters and an inadmissible sense of surrealism, keep Prisoners from being a successful crime-thriller.

Everything that Denis Villeneuve's latest venture lacks in authenticity and ingenuity it makes up with controversial questions pertaining to morality. The brightest onscreen sequences center around deep-rooted psychological debates of right vs wrong. Prisoners goes to great lengths to illustrate that the two extremes are often divided by a very large gray area. However, two and a half hours of uneventful cinema become an unpleasant platform for such a dispute.

Drawn out and packing very little punch, Prisoners' intensity and spark fades as the minutes mount. There are plenty of more entertaining and captivating options currently in theatres. Pursue another one.

Stars: 1 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: C-

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