Prisoners review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
There are many movies out there that think they are smarter than they actually are. Lucky Number Slevin for instance treats its audience like idiots until the predictable end. However at least Slevin is a fun romp, Prisoners treats its audience like they are morons and forces them to sit through an overly long, needlessly dark story of family and forced religious symbolism.
The film follows the story of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a father whose daughter goes missing along with another child in the neighbourhood. When police detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) cannot track down the kidnapper, Keller takes matters into his own hands and handles his own investigation, including discovering what a mentally handicapped man (Paul Dano) who was hanging around his house knows, by any means possible.
Filled with a plethora of highly respected and talented actors, Prisoners concentrates heavily on the psychological impact this kidnapping has had on them from Keller’s devolution into something vindictive and violent to Terrence Howard’s Franklin forgetting his moral life and his relationship with god for the sake of his child. Melissa Leo and Viola Davis also pop up for memorable cameos but the weight of the films story revolves around the corruption of Keller.
Jackman is fantastic as the unhinged father and Gyllenhaal makes a very physical and imposing detective. The real problem with Prisoners isn’t its actors, it’s the films story, a mess of predictable Law & Order tropes disguised as smart writing. As the film progresses the end becomes increasingly obvious as the films tense and atmospheric buildup gives way to cookie cutter dialogue and actions. The films police presence make the cops in Super Troopers look smart, something I never thought possible.
In fact the film's story really ends about 40 minutes into this almost 3 hour picture as the real killer emerges through a collection of badly sequenced clues. The films editing also proceeds to ruin what could have been a tense crime drama as it concentrates too heavily on the character beats. While you may be impressed by Jackman and the other strong character performances there is nothing here worth mentioning in terms of story.