Review by: Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
It is not very often that a Studio permits its Artists free reign, but then again Warner Bros. is far from the norm. With three potential Oscar Contenders out this weekend, Prisoners opens-up this weekend as the Leader of the Pack.
The Film is a departure from the Zeitgeist, a dark narrative about dark matters. Crafted by the Quebecois Renaissance Man Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners is a Movie about the array of affects that occur after a Child is kidnapped. It is led by Hugh Jackman, who plays Keller Dover, the brooding Father of one of the Film’s two missing Girls. He is helped in his quest by Detective Loki, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Each Man goes about unravelling the mystery of the Girls’ disappearance in very different ways. And to keep it a mystery, it will not be posited here as to how exactly either does. Suffice it to say that both Men traverse far below the underbelly of Society. Deep in the recesses of Tartarus they discover how far people are willing to go to get what they want.
Melissa Leo seems to be willing to go the farthest (as she always does). Ever the Scene-Stealer, she enters the narrative late but nevertheless makes her mark. So does Paul Dano. He plays the Half-wit Alex Jones, and proves yet again that he is an excellent Character Actor. Jackman and Gyllenhaal on the other hand prove what it is to lead. The former does so as a convincing Sadist, and Gyllenhaal as a passionate Man of the Law. Both owe part of their successful portrayals to their Characters’ Creator Aaron Guzikowski. His ability to write is other-worldly. He goes in and out of convincing the Audience they are omniscient. At times the mystery seems solvable, and soon thereafter seems everything but. The anxiety this produces is palpable, driving one insane from wondering if the Girls are alive and who is to blame for their plight.
My God it is good, even if God is the one being questioned by the Film. Yes, it is a Movie with deep subject matter. It questions faith, security, and even one’s own sense of judgement. It is a powerful piece of Filmmaking that reminds us that Movies not only entertain, but also to demand from us a commitment to question ourselves and the World around us. For those willing to do so Prisoners is a rewarding experience, providing you with both food for thought and quality conversation material. Bravo, Denis!
Warner Bros. releases Prisoners on Friday, September 20, 2013.