Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis
Director:  Denis Villeneuve

I made a mistake of watching Prisoners alone. All I knew was it was supposed to be a crime thriller, but I didn’t expect to watch what I saw. I thought it was going to be similar to those kinds of movies Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal typical appear in. It wasn’t. It was a rather gritty, and had a very dark tone throughout, cutting out every inch of hope that we usually look for in depressing movies. Still, it’s one of those movies where it wasn’t drowned by the names of the people involved, rather it makes the crime stand out, and the desire to solve the puzzle unite the movie into one piece.

It was Thanksgiving, and the Dover and Birch families were enjoying their evening, when their youngest children suddenly go missing. One of the older children suggests that it might have been the RV parked alongside the neighborhood. The case was then assigned to Detective Loki, whose known to have not lost a case. When the RV was found, a suspect, Alex Jones, was taken away. However, without substantial evidence, he was set free. That’s when the movie abruptly splits into two. Keller Dover takes the manner in his own hands, in the only method he knows how. Meanwhile Detective Loki continues to pursuit his case, uncovering pieces of the puzzle that leads to the real culprit.

I found the plot to be predictable. The moment the suspect was taken in, I was already formulating the solution in mind, and how it was connected. Not to mention, there was some obvious evidence pointing out who the real abductor is. It just took a long time to put the pieces together, although by the way some scenes eerily focused on details, it was evident how it all goes together. While it did try to create some mystery and twists, it looked like it was just going to end at the same direction. Even if it was predictable, it didn't take off the chilly factor and the dark tone the whole production was going for, as it managed to snip any kind of hope that movies usually bring in.

I liked how the movie kept its tone pacing, even for a movie that was a bit too long. A two and a half hour film of pacing around trying to put together pieces that were already exposed within the first thirty minutes of the film. What’s striking, however, is the emotions conveyed by the actors, that doesn't seem to overpower the plot, and compliment to it. While actors performances are usually supposed to stand out, Prisoners was made to be as such that all their performances, whether a physically brutal one by Hugh Jackman, or Jake Gyllenhaal’s rational façade, did not particularly stand out, but helped enhance the effect of the film. It wouldn't be gritty, or dark if it weren't for the different kinds of reaction we see on-screen. You have Jackman’s Keller Dover, who was a physical, go-getter, unstoppable kind of man, who would go through any lengths to get his daughter back. Then you have Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki, who might look like nothing fazes him at all, but in fact there is an inner turmoil in him that taunts him. He knows he’s near to the answers but can’t quite get in them. There’s Terrence Howard and Viola Davis, whom also showed different reactions to the situation. There’s a variety of people experience the situation, and are all showing different reactions to it regardless of their position in society. 

Despite the plot holes, Prisoners managed to bring a range of emotions into one production. While none of the performance stood out, in a way, they all supported each other into conveying the emotional capacity of the film. It doesn't only play with one side of the story, but allows it to run through the eyes of the victim, and the person that everyone is counting on to finish the job. The characters do clash in terms of their thinking, but they were working on the same goal, and in the process, manages to unfold something deeper, and bigger than what they started out with.


  1. I rated this even lower than you, but I agree about the plot holes I really didn't like the script. It was like it borrowed elements from every single child abduction thriller that existed before. I did like Gyllenhaal and Davis, though.

    1. The plot holes were what irked me most about it. It wasn't original, and I guess I was expecting something different from all the others similar to it. I think the factor that made it a thriller was how Jackman's character took matters to his own hands. Those scenes were something.