My Thoughts On… Prisoners

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free

When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Prisoners has a great cast; Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano and Melissa Leo. That’s a fair amount of talent in one film, and they all put in great performances. I’m always fond of watching Jake Gyllenhaal, particularly in a role like this. He plays the police officer working on the case, and I think it’s pretty great casting. Hugh Jackman also puts in a typically strong performance. It was actually a slightly different kind of role to the the type I am used to seeing him in. More often than not, he’s the hero, but here he is a much more complex character, someone who is the victim of a crime, but finds himself perpetrating an equally horrific crime in the search for answers.
  • The film takes an interesting look at the idea of justice and revenge. It’s a film that is definitely making a point, and trying to make you think about the issues that it is raising. What happens to Keller and his family is unimaginable, but what he does in turn to Paul Dano’s character is almost unwatchable at times. Keller feels completely justified in his actions, because all he wants to know is where his little girl is, but as a viewer, it’s impossible for me to sympathise with what he does. The fact that Paul Dano’s character is clearly suffering from developmental issues makes it feel even more distasteful, and the whole thing asks some serious questions about torture and the obtaining of information under duress.
  • The atmosphere of the film is just spot on. The film is set in Pennsylvania, and the weather is bleak and oppressive, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. It’s no surprise that Roger Deakins, the cinematographer, received an Oscar nomination.
  • I absolutely loved the ending. Though I have some concerns over the length of the film and how it ties everything up, I thought the way that the film ends was just fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like

  • There are three extremely talented female actors in this film: Melissa Leo, Viola Davis and Maria Bello. They are sadly underused; they are present, but this is really a boy’s film. It seems a shame to employ such fantastic actors and then leave them languishing on the sidelines of the story.
  • This is yet another modern film that is too long. At 153 minutes, it’s over two and a half hours long. I understand from a certain point of view; to wrap it up quickly would mean losing all the tension as to whether or not the girls are alive. Given that there were two, I wasn’t sure throughout the film how it was going to end, whether one girl or both (or neither, though that seemed unlikely) would survive. But two and a half hours is a long time, and I am not fond of a long film.

Why Should I See This Film?

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a dark and tense drama. The performances, particularly by Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano are fantastic, and the sense of foreboding that pervades the film is so brilliant that you are never sure how it is going to turn out. I also particularly liked the way that the film ends!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Kim Callaghan

    I completely agree with everything you have said (we finally got round to watching it at the weekend) It had some uncomfortable viewing (which was the point) but it was very well done, but far too long! Overall, I really enjoyed it too

    August 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm
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