Monday, September 23, 2013

Prisoners (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the movie "Prisoners" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



If you're going to make a movie this painful to watch, could you at least keep it under 2 hours?
“Prisoners” stars Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard as the dads of missing daughters and the lengths they will go to to find them and get them back. Viola Davis and Mellisa Leo are the moms and Jake Gylenhall joins them as the detective put on the case. Right off the bat… whoa… if you think you’re ready for how dark this movie is, I’m guessing you may need to drop it down a couple shades more. At least I know I wasn't prepared for how dark this was. The trailer had me thinking like Mel Gibson’s “Ransom”, but I was way off it’s much darker. If Ransom were the sunset, “Prisoners” is midnight… in the middle of the country side… with no moon… or stars… or lightning bugs. Point being it’s really dark. Not that this makes it a bad movie.
In fact there is a lot that’s pretty amazing about this film. The best thing in fact is the acting. There really isn't a weak link in the chain. And Jackman and Gylenhall especially shine. Not only that but the story is genuinely compelling as it touches on some really deep issues of morality and personal boundaries. It asks us to walk with these dads as they explore their own limits to the question how far is too far, and it seems to do it in a realistic and even empathetic way. All that adds up to a movie that sinks its teeth into you and won’t let you off the hook even as the final credits roll.
Which by the way takes over 2 and a half hours to get to. and that’s the worst thing about “Prisoners” it’s just longer than it needs to be. Though I certainly was never at risk of falling asleep, I did have several times where the pace slacked enough that I found myself wanting them to move it along. I don’t mind a long movie as long as it doesn’t feel long, and this one definitely did. I also found myself begging that the uncomfortable darker scenes would end sooner but I don’t begrudge the movie wanting to make its point firmly by letting them linger. Whether or not some of this material is too dark for you, well you can decide, if you’ve seen The Machinist or Zodiak you’ll start to get the idea.
At the end of the day, “Prisoners” is an incredibly acted, and deeply thought provoking 2 and a half hours of film. If you can stand the length and the dark and testing subject matter you may be able to hang on for an exciting, yet uncomfortable, ride. Overall, I’d give it a B.
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