September 22, 2013, - 2:58 pm
“Prisoners,” in theaters this weekend, is a well-crafted thriller. While it is very violent–and not suitable for kids (it’s rated “R” for a reason)–the movie is tight and keeps you riveted and on the edge of your seat the whole time. At 2.5 hours, the movie is a little long, but you’re never bored, and there’s little of it that should be cut. It’s a very dark movie–dark and dreary the entire time in cinematics as well as story.
The story: two couples (Hugh Jackman/Maria Bello and Terrence Howard/Viola Davis) are close friends. On Thanksgiving, they have dinner together, but suddenly each couple’s younger daughter is missing. Jackman’s son believes a camper parked in the neighborhood is responsible for the kidnapping. And when the camper is located, the driver, Paul Dano, is mentally slow, and the investigating police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) does not believe he’s the culprit, after hours of intense questioning. Jackman believes he’s responsible and begins surveilling Dano at the home of his aunt (Melissa Leo), where Dano lives. Soon, after Dano does and says suspicious things, Jackman captures him and subjects him to torture to try to find out where his daughter is.
Telling you more would give away the movie. But it’s incredibly creepy. I had a few reservations. Jackman’s character is a devout Christian, and yet he resorts to torture, something they’d never show Muslims doing, despite the fact that Muslims are more likely to sanction and engage in that kind of behavior. They do it on a regular basis. Jackman’s character is also a hunter, and it appears that Hollywood is trying to show that Christian gun-owners will engage in unnecessary violence when set up in the right circumstances. It’s interesting also that the movie engages in mild racial politics, with the torturer in the in the movie being the White Christian hunter. In contrast, the movie shows the Black man–whose young daughter has also been abducted–as the voice of reason who opposes this sort of violence and torture. The Christian part is explained because it is an element of the plot. However, it wasn’t necessary.
If you can look beyond those momentary parts of the movie, it’s worth seeing and is far better than I expected. I lowered my rating of the movie (from THREE or THREE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS), though, because of those things.
It’s suspenseful, entertaining, well done, and filled with good acting. And I loved the ending, which is pitch perfect.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, movie, movie review, Movie Reviews, Paul Dano, prisoners, Prisoners movie, Prisoners movie review, Prisoners review, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis