Wednesday, January 8, 2014


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! "Thank you for calling, Prisoners, how can I take your order?"

Prisoners – 4 out of 5

For some reason or another, this film entered my back burner and was forgotten about for awhile. While I wanted to see it and was sold on the trailer when it came out, I didn’t feel a burning desire to jump on the opportunity to watch it. Even when the DVD came out, I didn’t feel myself rising to the challenge of putting on pants, leaving the house and hitting up a Blockbuster Redbox to get the film. However, after finally battling my demons and watching the thing, I kinda regret not seeing it sooner because, Holy Wow, it was one hell of a movie.

I'm assuming the irritated stance from Hugh Jackman has to do with my procrastination
over watching Prisoners.

When two families meet to have a Thanksgiving dinner together, little did they know their world was about to be turned upside down. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and his wife, Grace (Maria Bello), meet with their friends down the road, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) and his wife, Nancy (Viola Davis), and, while the festivities of overeating and watching football are taking place, the two families’ youngest children suddenly disappear. When panic leads to hysteria, the families turn to the police and the dedication of a single officer, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). After a lead ends up going cold, Keller decides to take matters into his own hands and starts down a path that leads him to a dark side that is not much different from the side that belongs to the kidnappers.

The angrier and more sleep deprived the detective is, the more dedicated he becomes.

Like I said in the paragraph right before the one that is right before this one, Prisoners was a HELL of a movie. It was such a hell of a movie that I had to capitalize “hell” in the previous sentence. The drama and tension that fill the film are just insanely intense, griping and all consuming of my attention. This movie is thirty minutes under three hours but the time flew by as you watched the horrors that Grace Dover had to endure with a child missing, the depths Keller was all too willing to dive down into to find them and the uncertainty that Franklin feels over seeing his friend lose his grip on right and wrong.

Ha ha...he doesn't know how to use a hammer and--oh shit!  Is he torturing that man?

These themes of grief, anger and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness is amplified and directed perfectly thanks to extremely amazing performances from Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis. Watching them deal with the events of the film’s story and seeing how realistic all their interactions and reactions quickly hit home for me and began to pull on the heart-strings and shock-chords. Jake Gyllenhaal was no slouch either as he became the glue to keep the gears moving forward in this film (shut up, that metaphor makes total sense).

His sad face was inspired by the memory that Don Cheadle replaced him
as War Machine.

The plot and the story are also incredibly well constructed and the mystery of the kidnapper and where the children are located at is divulged at a perfect pace. Tidbits, clues and hints are littered throughout the first two acts of the film and are done so where you are not given too much and are given just a little bit under what you need. This balance made for a film that forced me to pay attention and ended up grabbing my focus and pulling me into its story. This was one of those movies that I became an active participant in and, while my girlfriend and I watched it, we were carrying on open dialogue about what we saw and were trying to figure out the mystery of who is responsible for taking the children.  It wasn't one of those, "Oh, the guy that looks scary and the movie is overtly trying to direct attention away or painfully obviously towards, is the one who did it" kind of movies.

There had to have been a point in the production when Hugh Jackman forgot that
he wasn't playing Wolverine in this movie.

It’s a rare sight when a thriller can actually thrill you, horrify you and make you heartbroken all at the same story but it’s just as rare to have a thriller that is successful in keeping you in the dark until the very moment the reveal is needed and to do so without cheating—like, say, suddenly throw in a completely new character that hasn’t been in the film at all or throwing red herrings galore at you. Prisoners doesn’t resort to this and is capable of making a film that reveals all the viewer needs to put the pieces together at a perfect pace.

Detective Loki's next assignment; figuring out what the hell is going on in Donnie Darko.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie and, with all the gushing love I am coating this movie with (yep, that sounded gross), you might wonder why I didn’t give Prisoners my perfect score of 5 out of 5. While this film is amazing, the entire mystery of the film limits the replay value for me. That is the only real killer I had for Prisoners. As amazing as the film is, I can’t help but think that on repeating viewings the emotional impact the film left on me and the surprise and shock of watching the mystery of it unfold will be lost or faded. While I would never rule out watching it again, I just don’t think the lasting impression will be the same as it was during my virgin excursion. However, it’s still a hell of a movie—oops, I mean a HELL of a movie.

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