This film’s a ripper of a whodunnit. A crime occurs, a seasoned detective comes on the scene, and we’re all taken on a whirlwind ride to bust the bad guy. But this whodunnit does much more than keep you on the edge of your seat (or sofa for that matter).
This intricately crafted film stayed with me long after the screen dimmed. Though a tad on the long side (153 minutes) the film is pretty much perfectly paced and never feels tedious or over indulgent on the part of the director. It’s a little tricky to go into too much depth about this one without giving anything away, but let’s just say it’s a thriller of a ride with a hell of a lot going for it, including:
1. A killer cast.
The actors’ performances? Stellar. All of ’em. Hugh Jackman does butch patriarch with a vengeance. Literally. Workaholic detective with a troubled past oozes out of Jake Gyllenhaal’s every pore, and Paul Dano gets in on the action too playing a disturbed outsider with the rock-star commitment that we’ve come to expect from him.
2. Atmospheric weather. Lots of it.
You could describe the weather in Prisoners as a character in the movie. It adds a lush ominousness to the action that never feels contrived or Hollywood-rain-machine-ey. The overall look of the film is gorgeous to watch, and beautifully realised. If you’re interested, here’s a great article about cinematographer Richard Deakins’ vision for the film.
2. It asks questions, but doesn’t get all cheesy and obvious by answering them.
There’s a real moral conundrum at the heart of this film; one that may just stay with you for a while afterwards. But, preachy messages are nowhere in sight. And the films all the better for it.
3. Artful symbolism.
The indoctrination of violence. Power. Torture. Imprisonment. Animals are masterly woven into the film to convey these themes. An unassuming deer. A girl’s pet rodent. A little dog. Snakes… lots of em. Keep your eyes peeled…
3. Ambiguous endings.
If you’re the kind of movie-fan that likes a nice, clean, sutured-up plot-lines, this isn’t the film for you. Though entranced throughout, my movie date was left rather unsatisfied by the end credits. Me? Not so. After all, life isn’t always neatly packed boxes anyway.
Initial release: September 20, 2013 (USA)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Runtime: 153 minutes
Screenplay: Aaron Guzikowski
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis
Check out the official trailer below: