I’m not a parent. But I do know quite a few. I’ve always been told comments that over the years I have filtered into “You’ll never know what being a parent is like, until you are one.” and “Becoming a parent changes you forever.” I’ve gotta say that that statement I know to be true and I witnessed it as first-hand as you can get without being the one actually becoming a parent when my sister had a baby. That’s all well and fine. Growing up, my mother would tell me about the crippling fear a parent (my parents) went through when I was battling heart disease, but I digress once again. Let’s get to the review, shall we?
“Prisoners” is the story of two families whose young daughters go missing. Naturally (and forgive the cliché) this would undoubtedly be a parent’s worst nightmare. But when the prime suspect is released due to a lack of evidence, how far would you be willing to go if you were convinced that they had your child? This movie (and story) fiercely tested the limits of two grieving fathers and how far they would be willing to go to find their missing daughters.
The characters are incredibly portrayed. Hugh Jackman blew this one out of the park as Keller Dover and is already receiving Oscar buzz. Jake Gyllenhaal as the oddly tatted, grunge-rocker-haircut-wearing Detective Loki gave what I thought was a stellar performance.
And let me just make a separate paragraph here for Paul Dano who plays the prime suspect Alex Jones. Just… Wow! Yes it kinda is the same oddball characters he’s known for like from “Little Miss Sunshine,” but never has any of his roles been this dark. From an actor’s perspective, I give him tremendous respect for the physical and psychological torment he must’ve gone through if he method acts. I try to never discuss specific scenes in my reviews, but in the scene where he walks the dog… yeah…
The over 2 1/2 hour running time doesn’t make the movie drag at all. Instead, I saw it as a tool to add to the suspense and desperation felt by the characters regarding whether or not the children were ever going to be found. The cast, story, and direction of Denis Villeneuve put the audience in those homes and in that police station feeling as helpless as they did in their moments of most tormented desperation.
This is a VERY HEAVY movie and not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, I encourage you to see it and try to take something away from it whether you are a parent or not. FYI: this movie has twists that you will never see coming, so don’t think it’s going to be as predictable as you might think.