Saturday, 22 March 2014


Relatively unknown director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) teams up with globally known Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) and averagely known Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), for a dark, twist-filled thriller that breaks the stagnation of a genre becoming more repetitive with every release.

A well-organised straight-thinking man by the name of Keller Dover (Jackman) becomes desperate when his daughter goes missing along with the neighbours (coincidence, he doesn’t think so), leading him to become only more unstable when the police, led by Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki (we just can’t seem to escape that name in modern cinema), releases the suspect (Dano) that Dover is certain took his daughter. This allows Jackman to tap into an anger we see in his portrayal of Wolverine; the performance is desperate, barbaric and superb. Gyllenhaal also shines opposite him attempting to hide his own anger and desperation. Reminiscent of his role in Zodiac, it’s easy to see why he enjoys this character so much. While both are magnificent on their own, it’s when the pair clash that the film reaches its peak.

Intense fights, sometimes physical, sometimes verbal, explode as the tension reaches unbearable amounts. It’s this storytelling that I enjoyed so much. To build tension for as long as possible and unleash it with a fury unseen for a long time, and I wouldn’t want any other actors to portray that. Dano playing the released suspect is as fantastic as ever. Personally, his performance in LMS is one of the most under-rated of all time, perhaps because he has very few lines, but he really shows his talent here. Bringing the creepiness and sinisterness to a movie so brutal is no mean feat, but he does it brilliantly. Acting-wise, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The story however, isn’t as great. Of course it’s original, tense and has more twists than your typical M. Night Shymalan movie, but something’s missing, or rather there’s too much. To some extent, this movie is too tense, too twist-filled. Of course, we love to be biting our nails and shouting at the TV with pride when we think we’ve solved it, but this movie makes us do that every five minutes, leaving very little time to just sit back and appreciate. That being said, the story is gripping and we do stick around till the end. Prisoners is a refreshing thriller that doesn’t conform just for the sake of conformity. At this point, I’d make a pun about how it takes no prisoners… but I think they’d throw me in jail for it.

Brilliant acting coupled with a story that keeps us entertained, but sometimes lets itself down by doing too much 4/5, []

Jonny Naylor

Prisoners at CeX

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