What price the safety of your family?

Featuring

Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello as Keller and Grace Dover
Terrence Howard and Viola Davis as Franklin and Nancy Birch
Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective David Loki
Melissa Leo as Holly Jones
and Paul Dano as Alex Jones

As you have probably guessed, I’m generally a science fiction or fantasy kind of person, but I will not refuse a good movie when it’s out there. Prisoners is an outstanding movie, dark, moody and packed with slow, brooding cinematography, but it delivers on its storyline with the requisite tension and fantastic acting from its cast.

Now, I didn’t know what to expect from the movie going on. I just figured that Hugh Jackman was going to break out of prison with his bare hands. Luckily, this isn’t that kind of movie and there’s hardly any action in it at all. To set the scene, it’s Thanksgiving and the Dovers (Hugh Jackman’s family) goes to have dinner with the Birches (Terrence Howard’s family) in what appears to be a bleak, lower middle class outer suburb in America. When the two younger children return to the Dover residence to collect a red whistle, they disappear. Fearing the worst has happened, they call the police and the primary lead is an old battered RV that was parked just outside the Dover residence.

This is where Jake Gyllenhaal’s cynical and lonely Inspector Loki comes in. He’s a good investigator, but boy does he miss some big clues in the investigation and you just think “what the hell, man?” Admittedly, he feels exactly the same way, so I guess it’s even. The investigation begins with the RV and winds its way through some really good red herrings before the movie reaches its conclusion.

Thankfully, behind Prisoners is a well paced mystery which throws enough crumbs out there for the audience to try scrabble away at the mystery, but never truly revealing the villain until the very end. Unless you’re a much better detective than Loki, of course. The characters are believable and well thought out and you definitely feel for the Dovers and Birches as they struggle day in, day out with the disappearances of the youngest members of their family. You can even understand and sympathise with some of the more extreme actions the men in the families take (yeah, there’s torture here) to find their daughters, and the movie doesn’t moralise on them.

All of this put together means a fantastic movie with good acting, plot and cinematography. Each character has a history, some more surprising than others. Everyone in the movie is in a bad situation, except for the baddie of course, but everyone it seems is locked into a path that is defined by their personality and past. I say that you should watch it, because it’s genuinely one of the best movies of the year, but it’s definitely not a first date movie.

Rating

Dark, gritty and, in many ways more frightening than a horror movie. This is good cinema.

Should I watch this?

I would say yes, with the qualification that you need to be type of person that doesn’t need explosions and semi-naked girls to keep your attention.

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