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Title :Prisoners (2013)
Release : 20 September 2013 (USA)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Runtime: 2h 33min
Genre :Crime, Drama, Mystery
Stars :Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis
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Prisoners (2013) trailer
Prisoners (2013) review
It’s easy to make a thriller. It’s hard to make one that says something about human nature and then, like the hauntingly compelling “Prisoners,” finds something inside the genre that validates tying your nerves up in knots.
On a gray Thanksgiving Day in Pennsylvania, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), his wife, Grace (Maria Bello), their teenage son and 5-year-old daughter cross a suburban road to the home of their friends, the Birches. Keller and his son spent the morning hunting deer, and their kill is being prepared for the table.
But after dinner, panic sets in when the Kellers’ girl and her friend, the daughter of Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis), disappear while playing outside.
A camper truck was seen nearby, and the parents focus on that with a local police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal), who tracks it to the home of elderly Holly Jones (Melissa Leo) and her nephew, Alex (Paul Dano). Twentysomething Alex is mentally damaged, but was in the camper, and Keller thinks he heard Alex mutter about the girls’ whereabouts. When Alex is released by police due to lack of evidence, Keller decides to find things out on his own.
Then this stealthily ethical thriller burrows deep into our own most primal state. Wanting information on his daughter, Keller kidnaps Alex and continually beats and tortures him until he gets it. The vicious behavior is not done without conscience, but, in a strange way, alongside it.
Yet the detective has other leads. They include local creeps and the discovery of a corpse, leading into a maze of violence and fear that Keller is now part of.
Director Denis Villeneuve makes “Prisoners” more than what it seems, as cinematographer Roger Deakins fills the snow-covered landscape with quiet dread. There are notions of lost and over-active faith, and a murky, situational morality. All of the characters are prisoners of something, including Grace, escaping her sorrow in prescription drugs.
It’s only when this edgy movie turns toward solving its mystery that it resembles “Seven” or “The Silence of the Lambs.” Yet if Aaron Guzikowski’s script has a tricky blueprint, Villeneuve and the actors rise above.
Gyllenhaal is full of twitches, his skin sallow, eyes sunken. Jackman, big as an oak, makes Keller more powerless as his brutality rises, putting a weary face to fear and ferocity
Dano, Bello, Howard, Davis and Leo (nearly unrecognizable) are equally strong.
Villeneuve, whose last film was the Oscar-nominated “Incendies,” uses them all perfectly, and “Prisoners” works best when it isn’t what you thought it was going to be. But even on familiar ground, it’s hard to shake off.