Thursday, January 9, 2014

Film Review: Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners (Review)
United States/2013
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the best film of 2013."

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a hardworking carpenter, and his loving family visit their neighbors, the Birches, for Thanksgiving dinner. As the day continues, the families' young daughters, Anna and Joy, disappear without a trace...

Prisoners continues as Keller contacts the police to report the disappearance and a suspicious RV they had previously played on. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) heads the case and tracks the RV, confronting Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the driver, shortly afterward. However, the evidence doesn't connect and Alex Jones can't be held. An infuriated Keller takes the case into his own hands, while Loki continues to search for the girls. As far as story description, this is as far as I'll go to avoid spoilers -- fortunately, the film's trailer does the same. The twists and turns lead to a satisfying, almost open-ended ending.

Prisoners is a devastating drama with strong themes of family and morality. The film keeps you hooked from beginning to end, never losing momentum. This is surprising considering the approximate 2 hour 30 minute runtime. Prisoners has a story to tell, and it'll tell it without filler. Every scene has a purpose, and, by the end, everything connects masterfully. As for drama, with great performances, style, and direction, the film is extremely effective. The intensity is in the air and the atmosphere is dreadful. The suspense is almost unbearable at times. And, some scenes might even bring you to tears, especially if you're a parent. This isn't a feel-good film, instead, it's a dark, powerful, and effective drama -- you may not want to return to this film after one viewing, it's that effective.

Hugh Jackman delivers a powerful and intense performance -- one of his very best. Jackman is one of the pillars for the film as he unleashes every emotion possible in an incredibly touching manner. Jake Gyllenhaal keeps up with an equally impressive performance, a very realistic and believable performance. Paul Dano is awkward and eccentric -- perfect for his role. The rest of the supporting cast are superb and keep up the emption and momentum of the film. The music is dark and ominous, and well-fitted for the film. The cinematography is beautiful, every shot is masterfully composed. Denis Villeneuve's direction is flawless, being very consistent and pulling much from the vast.

Overall, Prisoners is a powerful drama-thriller hybrid with a twisted story. The performances, the style, the music, the cinematography... it all blends perfectly to create an intense, unforgettable atmosphere. I can't praise this film enough. Prisoners is a must watch film, at least once, and the best film of 2013.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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