Saturday, September 21, 2013


Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and their two kids walk down the street to a neighbor's party in PRISONERS.

I saw the new suspense thriller featuring Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal today, and all I can say is—holy cow, that was one terrific movie. The last time I saw a thriller this moody and intense was when I watched The Place Beyond the Pines earlier this year. In that film, the story was very creative in comparing the so-different-and-yet-so-similar lives of a bank robber played by Ryan Gosling and the cop who pursued him, portrayed by Bradley Cooper. In Prisoners, you have a police detective (played by Gyllenhaal) pretty much going by the book in finding the missing daughters of Jackman and Howard...who, on the other hand, resort to tactics that would make the CIA operatives played by Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty cringe as they tried to make the purported kidnapper (played by Paul Dano) confess to the whereabouts of the abducted girls.

Keller Dover confronts Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the purported kidnapper of Dover's daughter, in PRISONERS.

There are lots of twists and turns in Prisoners, with Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) questioning everyone—including the parents played by Jackman, Bello, Davis and Howard—who may have had any sort of involvement in the girls' kidnapping. Loki even interrogates a pastor, who (surprise, surprise) does have a skeleton in the closet (or in this case, a basement). The thing is, his secret isn't something that you would expect from the priest...only that it still involves the plight of young children gone astray. The mystery behind his daughter's disappearance is so severe that Keller Dover (Jackman) will resort to anything to get answers...from staking out Alex Jones' (Dano) house as he chokes/walks his dog at night to taking the prime suspect to an abandoned apartment building and, while employing all forms of torture on Jones, places him inside a makeshift wooden cell built by none other than Dover himself. The rage expressed by Dover as he questions Jones is so intense that Jackman is more intimidating playing this character than he was as Wolverine (in any of the X-Men films). And Gyllenhaal does a commendable job as Detective Loki; playing it cool as he goes about trying to solve the case but kicking ass and taking names when he needs to.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) questions Nancy Birch (Viola Davis) and her husband Franklin (Terrence Howard) in PRISONERS.

Not to spoil anything, but Prisoners does end in a happy ending...but also on a cautionary note as it shows the pitfalls (RE: dangers) that people face when they try to exact their own form of justice after a crime had been committed. Again, not to spoil anything, but the kidnapper is the one person you'd least expect in the movie. And once that perpetrator is revealed, blood will be spilled, and other innocent people besides the missing girls will be placed in harm's way even till the end credits roll. As mentioned at the start of this review, Prisoners is a terrific film, and the suspense doesn't let up at all in this well-made flick—not even in the very last shot of this movie. Watch Prisoners if you want to see how entertaining cinematic thrillers should be conceived. Carry on.

Alex Jones is comforted by his aunt Holly (Melissa Leo) in PRISONERS.

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