Jonny Prophet and I decided to see the feel good movie of the fall… Prisoners! We ended up feeling worse for some reason… huh. Anyways, this is our review of the movie. Like before it is divided into my contribution and the ever insightful Jonny contribution.
There be mild spoilers ahead… be warned!
Toaster’s Contribution: I really enjoyed Prisoners. It was a smart, psychological thriller reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs. Granted, there were no colorful characters the likes of Hannibal Lecter or Buffalo Bill, but we did get some great performances from the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Terence Howard, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano. I should add that I think Dano’s performance as Alex Jones in this movie is probably his best to date. He perfectly captured an ambiguous weirdo who might be an innocent victim or might actually know more than he lets on, all in a very minimalist fashion.
Of course it was Hugh Jackman who stole the show. Some might dismiss his performance as just being Wolverine without claws, but I think it went deeper than that. Wolverine is an emotionally damaged loner who tries to keep people away for fear of what he or others may do to them. Keller Dover, Jackman’s character from Prisoners, is a stern but loving father and husband. He is a strong, proud man who looks out for his family as the breadwinner and as protection, evidenced by his basement full of survival goods. His true intensity comes from the fear that he can’t always keep his family safe and his daughter’s disappearance, a situation he can’t control, drives him over the edge. He can’t let the police handle the problem; he feels it is his duty to protect his family by any means necessary.
Prisoners explores the line drawn by morality and begs the question “How far will you cross the line to protect the ones you love?” In Keller Dover’s case pretty damn far; some of the violence made Jonny turn away. (I was only a little uncomfortable because I am disturbed! Insert smiley face emoticon here!) Terence Howard played Franklin Birch, a friend of Keller’s and father of the other missing girl. He represented the other side of the parent spectrum. He was also distraught but wasn’t fully able to cross that line, yet ended up complacent enough (with support from his wife) to look the other way. This all harkens back to something I really love from this movie; how it delves into the deepest parts of our souls and makes us, the audience, question what we would have done for our loved ones.
Jake Gyllenhaal played Detective Loki. (I suppose thwarting Thor just doesn’t pay the bills anymore.) His character had made a reputation for solving every case he had been assigned, something that drove him throughout the film, often to the extent of mirroring Dover’s obsessive behavior such as abstaining from sleep and lashing out at anyone who got in his way. However, Detective Loki generally kept his temper to a simmer while Dover let his spill out in alcoholism and rage. It was that buried anger that really defined his character as he was often straining to remain the calm authoritative officer of the law he was expected to be. While I thought that Gyllenhaal gave his best performance since Brothers, I did repeatedly joke during the movie that he was a crappy detective. Perhaps it was for the benefit of the audience to ‘play along’ in trying to solve the case, but Detective Loki kept missing some pretty significant clues such as the repeated theme of mazes and not performing thorough enough searches. Now, I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will say Prisoners had some great tension as well as twists and turns that kept you guessing throughout. I also enjoyed the ending, though I think it would have been better without the whistling. I think it would have been a more fitting and poetic conclusion. (If you see it, you’ll understand what I mean by that.)
Jonny’s Contribution: There wasn’t enough Patrick McGoohan.
And I keep telling you that was The Prisoner and he’s dead!
Until the next flick… Stay Strange