Today is a great day – and you know what that means. I watched a good movie. But, in fact, today is an amazing day because I watched a movie that has, undoubtedly, become one of my favorites. I watched it twice and I’m still in awe and, once again, why haven’t anyone told me that Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors? I vaguely remember his performance in The Day After Tomorrow but when I saw him in Nightcrawler, which was the first movie where I witnessed his skills for real, I was amazed. And remember how I gushed about Nightcrawler? Well, Prisoners is a few levels beyond that so I guess you already know my final verdict – 5 out of 5. This is the first time I reveal that in the first paragraph but hey, at least you know what to expect.
Prisoners is about two couples Keller and Grace, and Franklin and Nancy who face every parent’s worst nightmare – their respective 6-year-old girls Anna and Joy get kidnapped while the families celebrate Thanksgiving together. The families believe that the kidnapper lives in a camper van that was seen in their neighbourhood the same day but, according to the police, the resident, the mentally childlike Alex Jones cannot be a suspect as his IQ is too low and he is mentally handicapped. However, Keller is still certain that Alex has something to do with the abduction and he decides to take action himself since he believes that Loki is just wasting time. As Keller tries to protect his family and rescue his little girl, things get more and more intense and the story get more hypnotizing.
I use the term “hypnotized” because that’s exactly how you feel watching this 2h30m long masterpiece. You forget about the length and you just want to know what happens next. The story itself unfolds at a very slow pace, which might bore some people, but I believe that the performance of the cast members keeps you engaged. And, let me tell ya’, I don’t think I have used the F-word so many times in my life – obviously the surprised/shocked version of the F-word. When a movie is so long, you need it to be dynamic and full of events that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and Prisoners does just that. It plays with your feelings in a very dramatic way so that you physically feel the desperation about getting to know who the real abductor is. The movie also excels at constantly changing your opinion on the characters – especially Keller and Alex – so be prepared. And when you finally start disliking a person, you start feeling sorry for them. All these feelings and emotions Prisoners provokes are food for my crime/thriller loving soul! The mindgames go on until the very last scene but the movie has a very open ending that leaves you completely clueless of what might/could/should happen but, for me, it’s an opportunity to create your own ending – be it happy or tragic.
As for the cast members, Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal both give an intense Oscar-worthy performance, developing their characters with different emotions from anger to guilt. It was unbelievably easy to feel and relate to Keller’s emotions because the character is played impeccably – you can simply feel his longing to find his daughter. It is also important to mention that Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Maria Bello all play well and they don’t fail to showcase how regular people would react in a situation like their characters’s. I was also fairly surprised by Paul Dano’s portrayal of Alex – very different from his role in 12 Years A Slave.
All in all, Prisoners will get 5 out of 5 clapperboards because everything was on point from the story to the cinematography. It will make you think like you’ve never thought before and the constant plot twists will make sure you can’t stop making your own hypotheses about what happened to the two abducted girls. Please, do yourself a favor and give this movie a chance!