A Review of Prisoners

We’ve all had that feeling.  Lying awake in bed, worrying about the fictional character.  Legitimately stressed out for the sake of an issue that does not exist in our world.  For me, I got stressed out from Breaking Bad.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that stress from a story is an accomplishment.  I like something that makes me think and worry.  However, there’s only so much until you have to fill your mind with some stupid-fun action movie like Pacific Rim or any super-hero movie.  I myself have a low threshold for these stressful stories.  It’s hard to find a complicated, great movie that captures you, but let’s you enjoy the ride.  Prisoners is exactly that. Prisoners takes place in an unnamed dreary town.  Our protagonist is Keller Dover, a carpenter and family man (played wonderfully by Hugh Jackman).  Keller is a manly man.  He hunts, works with his hands, and even has a fallout shelter in his basement.  However, in his core, he is happy with his nice family and is content.  He has a sweet wife (Maria Bello) and two kids, a teenage boy, Ralph, and an adorable six year-old girl, Anna.

The Dover family is very close with the Birch family, which consists of parents Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis).  The Birch family also have two girls, who are the same ages as the Dover kids.  Our story starts as the Dover family heads to the Birch house for Thanksgiving, spending a fun evening.  After the teenagers walk around, watching the little ones, they must pull the kids off of a creepy RV that they are playing on.  They hear heavy breathing inside and quickly leave.  Later, Anna and her friend want to go home to get Anna’s whistle.  Keller allows this, on the condition that the teenagers walk them home and back.  Hours later, they realize that the girls left without the teenagers, and are nowhere to be found.  The girls have been abducted.  The plot thickens, as Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests the RV’s owner (played by the underrated and talented Paul Dano), a creepy young man with a child’s mind. However, Detective Loki must release the suspect due to a lack of evidence, forcing Keller to take matters into his own hands, doing things that question the very nature of his own principles.

Now Prisoners is not fun whatsoever.  It is dark, depressing, and at times, a bit sadistic.  Prisoners is full of twists that you won’t see coming.  However, the story doesn’t force feed the viewer twists.  The movie allows the viewer to take in the twists, and although gasps may be inevitable, I was surprisingly pleased to not worry about the story, but to simply wonder what would happen, and enjoy the movie.

The movie was only nominated for one Oscar: cinematography.  If it were up to me, it would win many things, but cinematography is what it deserves most.  Prisoners is shot beautifully, and I had fun seeing how much work was put into it.  For the first time in a long while, I watched a psychological thriller that didn’t stress me out.  I have since watched it again, loving it more, and noticing even more symbols and plot points.  I have a rental on my computer waiting for a third watch.  This is a great movie.  Watch it.