The premise of the film sounds rather like Taken - however, there is far less action in an attempt to make the film more realistic. Prisoners chronicles Keller Dover's (Hugh Jackman) search for his young daughter and her friend after they are snatched away on Thanksgiving. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case, an immediately stumbles upon an RV that was seen on the street just before the girls disappearance. The driver of the truck, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), is taken into police custody on suspicion of abducting the two girls - however, a lack of incriminating evidence means that Alex is set free. The news of his release infuriates Kellen, who decides to take matters into his own hands by kidnapping Alex and torturing him for information.
Take caution when watching, as the pace of the film is very slow and there is very little action. Depending on the viewer, this will evoke a different response - personally, I like slow paced films provided that the long build up is rewarded with an exciting or shocking climactic point. The strange thing about Prisoners is that, unlike most slow-paced thrillers, this doesn't happen. Instead, there is a climax at the very beginning of the film when the girls get kidnapped, a very long lull in action and as the plot progresses throughout the middle of the film, and another smaller climax at the end. One of the factors that keeps the viewing interesting is the acting - both Jackman and Gyllenhaal are very good in this film. Keller Dover is portrayed by Jackman as almost an anti-hero, as he decides to try and speed the investigation up by using brute force. The brutality that is portrayed in the torture scenes is quite frightening at times, although I expect that the graphic violence probably contributes to this. Gyllenhaal's performance as Detective Loki is probably the stand-out within the film, as the character is cold and caring at the same time.
One of the things that struck me about Prisoners is the total lack of music throughout the film. There are certain points (the typical thriller scenario where one person points a gun at the other) where the effect of what was being shown on screen would have been so much more shocking had there have been a score. If anything can be taken from this, it is the influence of music in film should not be underestimated.
Overall, I would probably give the film a 5.5 or 6 out of ten - there are points when the plot gets close to stagnation but is saved by new details that are added to the plot. The cinematography is well done yet functional but the lack of music prevents the more shocking scenes from having as much of a punch as they could have done.
I hope you've enjoyed this little review - expect more film reviews on the cards, as there are lots of exciting new films that I'd like to watch and review in the near future.
- Kate Shortt -