Hey gang, Valkor here. So long story short, I'm in NYC attending an event and whilst on my journey back home, the urge to go suddenly came upon me. There're not many establishments in NYC that will allow you to walk in and use their restroom - some won't let you unless you purchase something. So I did the one thing that would satisfy my bowels and my need to keep MediaView flowing – I purchased a movie ticket. And the film on tap? It's "Prisoners" starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Terrence Howard. This is one of those films where you have to ask midway "where the fuck is this going?" and then you get there and it's… ugh! Still not a bad film, but ugh! Just read on. Major spoilers ahead.
Jackman and Howard play fathers Keller Dover and Franklin Birch, whose daughters, on the morning of Thanksgiving, suddenly vanish. All evidence points to an RV that the girls were quite interested in prior to their disappearance. The suspect, Alex (Paul Dano) who along with the RV, is found, but no girls. And even after hours of questioning, there's still no lead to the whereabouts of the missing girls. With nothing to hold him on, the police (against Keller's wishes), release Alex where he is confronted by Keller. Alex sorta taunts Keller in a whisper "they cried when I left them", which really sets him off. And that night while walking his dog, Keller snatches up Alex, takes him to an old abandoned building and proceeds to give him the beatdown of all beatdowns until he gives up information on where the girls are. But he doesn't so the torturing continues.
On the other side you have Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is also investigating the case; one night while a group holds a candlelight vigil for the two girls, one strange man caresses a doll a little too long and lovingly. When the stranger notices Detective Loki checking him out, the guy makes a dash for it with Loki giving chase. Loki catches up to him and the two struggle, but the stranger gets away. A shopkeep at a local department store gives Loki info on the guy, which leads him to the dude's place where he's arrested and a bunch of chests containing bloody children's clothes and snakes is found. Franklin, his wife and Keller positively identify some of the articles as belonging to their child, and Keller heads back to Alex, who he still believes knows where the girls are. But through all his tortures the guy hasn't said anything useful… until he mentions something about mazes. This links towards Loki's recent capture (whose name is Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian)), who also likes mazes.
So let's breeze through this ending, believe me at this point in the film I was starting to become a little annoyed. So Bob kills himself after struggling with Loki, Loki figures out the link with the mazes, one of the girls is found and Keller goes to confront the true captor. The end result of that confrontation has Keller shot in the leg and tossed in a pit. Loki goes to confront the kidnapper and enters just as said kidnapper is injecting Keller's daughter with poison. Keller is shot, the kidnapper is shot dead and a race to get the girl to the hospital commences (she makes it). The film ends with Loki back at the kidnapper's house where CSI just finished excavating the land. Before he leaves, he hears a whistle and the film fades to black.
Yup, Prisoners has one of those endings where you the viewer gets to choose how it ends. However, for this particular film… it doesn't make sense.
"Prisoners" is definitely one of the better tales I've had the chance to watch recently; this also goes for Chained, which floored me. There was never a point I was disinterested in the film, though there were a couple of areas where I was annoyed. And that mainly centers on the length, which I feel is too long. But for a good chunk of the film, I'd say from start to midway, you're taken on an intense, disturbing and emotional journey through one man's persistence in finding his daughter and doing whatever it takes to get her back. Thanks to Jackman's solid performance, you really empathize with his Keller character; you feel his pain and anguish and if placed in the same situation, I think I'd do the same. You can also sense his disappointment towards those who supposedly serve and protect. And that's the real reason why Keller takes the law into his own hands – he feels letdown. Essentially his performance resonates and you'll feel the chill long after you've left the theater. I was never really that much of a Jake Gyllenhaal fan, but I was impressed with his work in this film. He plays a small town cop who comes across as disengaged and can't really connect with those he's supposed to help. If that's the type of role he's supposed to play, then I'm all for it. In the end, Prisoners is a pretty decent film, while it could have been something more, was still worth watching.
If you want a film with a little more edge to it, definitely check out Korean film "I Saw the Devil"; it takes you places I wish this film had gone. While there were moments where I'd swear Keller was going to go over the top with his torturing, he sorta holds back. I think the film's length could have been shortened, to tighten up the story, which drags in certain areas. Then there's the ending, which I feel didn't need to end the way it did. A lot could have been cut from the middle to placate the ending, because as it stands, I feel it's a total cop out. I saw no need for the film to end the way it did. And what's the deal with the mazes? I never really understood that aspect of the film other than their being some sort of cult involved.
Alex's face – sweet Jesus!
Prisoners is making the theatrical rounds and while I have my issues mainly centering mostly on the ending, I still feel it's a solid thriller that tells an interesting story with some mighty fine acting mixed in. Out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Prisoners a 3. It's not good but it's not bad; it's just an OK film.