Movie Review – Prisoners (2013)

Thanks to the folks from Cathay, Rachel and I caught the preview screening of the movie, Prisoners last week.

Prisoners is a 2013 American crime thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, with screenplay written by Aaron Guzikowski, and with Mark Wahlberg as the executive producer. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano. It premiered at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival.

Synopsis:

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His 6-year-old daughter and her young friend are missing, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, but a lack of evidence forces the only suspect’s release. Knowing his child’s life is at stake, the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. The desperate father will do whatever it takes to find the girls, but in doing so, may lose himself, begging the question: When do you cross the line between seeking justice and becoming a vigilante?

Prisoners received positive reviews from critics. The film currently has a 79% approval rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 130 reviews. It was also a second runner up for the BlackBerry People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Rachel and I both enjoyed the movie very much and agree with the critics on the positive reviews.

At 153 minutes, the movie is pretty long. Nonetheless, there are enough twists and turns to the plot to keep you in constant suspense.

The director and cast also put in excellent work on the characterisation of each role. Gyllenhaal was particularly noteworthy as a twitchy cop who is a little unorthodox in his methods with half-hidden tattoos and a devil-may-care attitude to his superior. Although he is the one with the badge, his character is ready to play around within the system when he is pushed to his limits.

Detective Loki interrogating a suspect
Detective Loki interrogating a suspect

Jackman plays his nemesis of sort, as a concerned father turned criminal, ready to take things into his own hands when driven to desperation.

It is a crazy, stressful race against time when two young girls go missing and you know their chance of survival ticks away with each passing day, each passing minute. The audience is kept in constant suspense and tension, anxious for the girls to be saved.

At a macro level, the movie revolves around the theme of being trapped, like prisoners – in direct reference to the girls; indirectly, Keller Dover and Dectective Loki who are both pushed to their limits to find the girls; even the perpetrator of the crime who sees the crime as a battle against God and humanity, without giving away too much of the plot.

Prisoners is now showing in Singapore cinemas. If you enjoy movies like Silence of the Lamb and Twelve Monkeys, Prisoners is a must-see. Go catch it! 🙂

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