Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman
PRISONERS (2013). Director: Dennis Villeneuve.

The young daughter of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman of The Wolverine) and her friend disappear, and the main suspect is a geeky guy, Alex (Paul Dano), with a van and the mind of a ten-year-old. The police haven't found enough evidence to arrest Alex, so Keller and his friend, Franklin (Terrence Howard of Iron Man), whose daughter also disappeared, kidnap him in an attempt to get him to talk, a situation that leads to horrible torture that appalls Franklin and his wife (Viola Davis of Doubt) even as Keller reminds them of how their children are also suffering. There's also a priest (Len Cariou) who has a corpse in his basement, which may or may not figure in with the main case. Jake Gyllenhaal [Source Code] is the detective trying to figure out what Keller is up to, and Melissa Leo is Alex' horrified mother; both are quite good. Jackman offers an outstanding performance as the tormented, enraged and desperate father; he has a particularly good scene in tears in the police station. Prisoners is absorbing and thought-provoking, but the mentally deficient suspect is a cliche, and there are improbable moments, such as when cops don't call for back-up or ambulances. Still, it certainly holds the attention and has some powerful sequences.

Verdict: This probably won't work for everyone. ***.  

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