Latest Movie News Headlines

Review: Prisoners (TIFF 2013)

Prisoners (TIFF 2013)
Sep. 5, 2013by:
10 10

PLOT: A rural New England community is shaken to the core by the abduction of two six-year-old girls. When the key suspect in the abduction is let go by the police due to a lack of evidence, the father of one of the girls, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) takes the law into his own hands.

REVIEW: If all you know about Denis Villeneuve's PRISONERS is based on the trailers, you don't know much about it at all. Don't worry though, that's just the way it should be. Having just played to rave reviews at Telluride, and all but sure to do the same thing at TIFF, you'll be reading and hearing lots and lots about the film between now and it's general release on September 20th. And when the public gets to see it opening day, wow, just you wait. This will be THE water-cooler movie of the fall, and the one everyone's going to have an opinion about.

I was lucky in that I got to see it knowing very little about the film other than that which I got from the first preview, which, I must say was rather ingeniously done as it gives away virtually nothing that happens outside the first forty minutes of the lengthy two and a half hour running time. Rest assured, I'm not going to be the jerk that spoils the movie, so if this review comes off a little vague, it's only to avoid ruining any of the film's surprises, which kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire running time.

In fact, as soon as I walked out of PRISONERS, I emailed my editor here to tell him “PRISONERS makes SE7EN look like BLAZING SADDLES.” I don't mean that PRISONERS is as violent as Fincher's masterpiece, but it's similarly disturbing, perhaps even more so in that it's a film about adults hurting children, which is without a doubt the most heinous crime imaginable. In fact, PRISONERS isn't terribly gruesome, but on an emotional level it's nothing short of devastating. When it was over, I felt like going somewhere to cry for half an hour, as that's how drained I was by it's power. It exposes us to an evil that's terrifying simply due to the fact that it's so real.

With PRISONERS, Denis Villeneuve certainly establishes himself as one of our major filmmakers, and he'll no doubt be rocketing to the top of the A-list, regardless of whether or not this makes a dime (although many people are predicting this is going be an Oscar contender, which it most certainly deserves to be). If you've seen INCENDIES, Villeneuve's Oscar-nominated Quebecois movie from a few years ago, you'll know this guy is already a master, and truly, PRISONERS is the work of a genius. It should be said, he's helped immeasurably by the brilliant script by Aaron Guzikowski, which for once is a black list winner that lives up to the hype. The cinematography by the great Roger Deakins also gives this a striking look, with it initially boasting a reserved colour palette, only to get more and more explosive as the film goes on.

However, as good a job as Villeneuve did, I wasn't surprised that he delivered a hell of a film. I expect that from him. What really threw me for a loop were the performances. Everyone loves Hugh Jackman. He's personable, handsome, can sing, dance, act, do action, etc. But, Jackman has never had a role that's pushed him to the brink like this one has. His Keller Dover is a fascinating character. On the surface, he seems like some kind of bible-thumping cliche, with the first scene showing him teaching his son to hunt, before showing us his survival gear-filled cellar, and listening to him pray. But, Jackman doesn't play Dover like a fanatic. Yes, he's religious, and probably more than a little paranoid. But, he's also a doting dad, a loving husband, and a great friend to the sophisticated family next door (headed by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis- both of whom are at their best) who like him enough to invite him and his family to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Once the girls are kidnapped, Jackman's character eventually gets so primal and boiling with rage that he makes Wolverine look milquetoast by comparison. There's a scene where Jackman offhandedly smashes a sink to bits with a hammer, just by bringing it down a little too hard that will make you gasp. Jackman's like a caged animal, and his fury, while justified, is terrifying in it's intensity.

As the second lead, Jake Gyllenhaal makes an interesting contrast. A young cop with a chip on his shoulder, Gyllenhaal is everything Jackman's not in this, from the tattoos on his neck and fingers, to his often cool, but compassionate demeanour. Between this and END OF WATCH, Gyllenhaal's starting to excel at playing cops, and while he initially takes a back seat to Jackman (who's clearly relishing the role of his life), he ends up giving a performance that's just as gripping as Jackman's.

The same goes for Paul Dano, as the mentally challenged prime suspect, and Melissa Leo as his guardian. Both subvert the audience's expectations at every turn, as neither plays the kind of stock character you'd expect from a film like this. Dano often has a tendency to go big in his performances, but here he plays his character strikingly quiet, making him difficult to read, and even sympathetic. Leo's performance was even more difficult to grasp, with her motivations never being clear until they absolutely have to be.

I really can't praise PRISONERS highly enough, as to me it feels like some kind of masterpiece. It's without a doubt the best movie I've seen this year, and I'd be gobsmacked if anything else plays at TIFF (or heck, even comes out this year) that measures up to it. To me, the ultimate key to a movie's success is how much of an effect it had on me emotionally. This one left me a wreck, and will likely do the same to even the most jaded viewer.

Source: JoBlo.com

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

12:59AM on 09/06/2013

nice review

So awesome that this got a 10/10 I didn't think it would. I really can't wait to see this movie. I hope my g/f will enjoy it. She has a tuff time with hard subject matters.
So awesome that this got a 10/10 I didn't think it would. I really can't wait to see this movie. I hope my g/f will enjoy it. She has a tuff time with hard subject matters.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
7:07PM on 09/05/2013

Maybe haven't we seen the same movie...

Yes, the photography is beautifull. Yes the subject is interesting as much as disturbing. Yes there are good actors, acting good...
But, when the clues as so evident that EVERYONE in the audience understood what was the full story in the first 45' of the film, except for the supposedly smart cop, the 90' left are quite long, and boring... Waiting for the cop to FINALLY see that 2 + 2 actually DOES equal 4 !
Yes, the photography is beautifull. Yes the subject is interesting as much as disturbing. Yes there are good actors, acting good...
But, when the clues as so evident that EVERYONE in the audience understood what was the full story in the first 45' of the film, except for the supposedly smart cop, the 90' left are quite long, and boring... Waiting for the cop to FINALLY see that 2 + 2 actually DOES equal 4 !
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
5:50PM on 09/05/2013
Glad to hear it. I have been looking forward to this for months. And I agree with others here: Bumbray is usually on the ball (except you need to give The Lone Ranger a second chance Chris!). You gotta give Jackman some credit. He keeps making Wolverine movies to please his fans and insists on putting his all into his trademark character, but still he seeks out projects in between, like Les Mis and Prisoners, that will challenge him as an actor. I hope this movie's as good as it looks.
Glad to hear it. I have been looking forward to this for months. And I agree with others here: Bumbray is usually on the ball (except you need to give The Lone Ranger a second chance Chris!). You gotta give Jackman some credit. He keeps making Wolverine movies to please his fans and insists on putting his all into his trademark character, but still he seeks out projects in between, like Les Mis and Prisoners, that will challenge him as an actor. I hope this movie's as good as it looks.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
5:12PM on 09/05/2013
I'm quite looking forward to this. This is an incredible review.
I'm quite looking forward to this. This is an incredible review.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
4:18PM on 09/05/2013
Wow, I wasn't expecting quite the positive review. The only bummer is that I live an hour away from Toronto but TIFF is always during the first week of university, so it's tough for me to find the time to go, especially if movies as good as this seem to be playing.
Wow, I wasn't expecting quite the positive review. The only bummer is that I live an hour away from Toronto but TIFF is always during the first week of university, so it's tough for me to find the time to go, especially if movies as good as this seem to be playing.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+4
12:43PM on 09/05/2013
Interesting. I would not have guessed based on the trailer alone because it makes it out to be a very mediocre thriller. Guess I will have to check it out if it actually is that good.
Interesting. I would not have guessed based on the trailer alone because it makes it out to be a very mediocre thriller. Guess I will have to check it out if it actually is that good.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:36PM on 09/05/2013
Awesome news, really looking forward to this one.
Awesome news, really looking forward to this one.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:28PM on 09/05/2013
This really just got put on my radar a day or two ago when I saw the trailer. Thought it looked cool but was expecting an average run of the mill cop thriller (figured Jackman wanted to pay cash for a new addition to his house or something). But after reading this review, it just soared to the top of my must see list. Can't wait to check it out.
This really just got put on my radar a day or two ago when I saw the trailer. Thought it looked cool but was expecting an average run of the mill cop thriller (figured Jackman wanted to pay cash for a new addition to his house or something). But after reading this review, it just soared to the top of my must see list. Can't wait to check it out.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:07PM on 09/05/2013
Damn! Despite the cast involved I was still expecting a run of the mill thriller that i would wait until it hit Netflix but now I will be catching this in the theater.
Damn! Despite the cast involved I was still expecting a run of the mill thriller that i would wait until it hit Netflix but now I will be catching this in the theater.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+3
11:24AM on 09/05/2013
Bumbray usually steers straight for me, so I am definitely excited to see this now!
Bumbray usually steers straight for me, so I am definitely excited to see this now!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:21AM on 09/05/2013

lazerscope

A perfect 10? Wasn't planning on seeing this cuz I thought the trailer gave away the whole plot (hate when that happens). But after this review, my ticket's good as bought!
A perfect 10? Wasn't planning on seeing this cuz I thought the trailer gave away the whole plot (hate when that happens). But after this review, my ticket's good as bought!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:00AM on 09/05/2013

Awesome!

1010?!? This is great news. The trailers look amazing and now I REALLY can't wait to see it.
1010?!? This is great news. The trailers look amazing and now I REALLY can't wait to see it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:25AM on 09/05/2013
I'm REALLY happy to read the first part of the review, because when I saw the trailer I remember thinking "They just showed the whole friggin' film". I'm glad that is not the case. Looking forward to this one!
I'm REALLY happy to read the first part of the review, because when I saw the trailer I remember thinking "They just showed the whole friggin' film". I'm glad that is not the case. Looking forward to this one!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:56AM on 09/05/2013
One of the few remaining films that I reay really want to see and am excited for. Wasn't expecting a perfect score though. So with that my expectations just got a little higher.
One of the few remaining films that I reay really want to see and am excited for. Wasn't expecting a perfect score though. So with that my expectations just got a little higher.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:48AM on 09/05/2013
Wow, 10/10?! Definitely want to see this now.
Wow, 10/10?! Definitely want to see this now.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:33AM on 09/05/2013

Prisoners mentioned with Se7en

When I saw the first trailer for this movie I knew I wanted to see it then, but now it's gotten a 10/10 from a Joblo writer and I'm very intrigued. It's not that a movie shouldn't deserve a 10/10 but the trailer doesn't say all that much but two girls disappear and their father is pissed and the police aren't doing what the father thinks they should be doing. It seems like a basic seen-it-before story but it's Jackman that makes it that more fun to watch.
When I saw the first trailer for this movie I knew I wanted to see it then, but now it's gotten a 10/10 from a Joblo writer and I'm very intrigued. It's not that a movie shouldn't deserve a 10/10 but the trailer doesn't say all that much but two girls disappear and their father is pissed and the police aren't doing what the father thinks they should be doing. It seems like a basic seen-it-before story but it's Jackman that makes it that more fun to watch.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:51AM on 09/05/2013
Totally agree with you.
Totally agree with you.
8:32AM on 09/05/2013
Since the trailers, I've been having that music in my head. I am stoked for this!
Since the trailers, I've been having that music in my head. I am stoked for this!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
7:49AM on 09/05/2013
Blazing Saddles makes Se7en look like Blazing Saddles.
Blazing Saddles makes Se7en look like Blazing Saddles.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
7:34AM on 09/05/2013
Wow, stoked now. We're in for one hell of a fall movie season.
Wow, stoked now. We're in for one hell of a fall movie season.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
5:56AM on 09/05/2013
My kind of review, a detailed description of everything but the plot. But... I'm gonna take the 10/10 with a grain of salt just for the movie's sake. Wouldn't be the first time I've gone into a theater with perfect reviews in mind and then when it's "just" a 7 or 8/10 I'm unjustly disappointed.
My kind of review, a detailed description of everything but the plot. But... I'm gonna take the 10/10 with a grain of salt just for the movie's sake. Wouldn't be the first time I've gone into a theater with perfect reviews in mind and then when it's "just" a 7 or 8/10 I'm unjustly disappointed.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
4:36AM on 09/05/2013

10/10?

I still think it looks a little bit like Mel Gibson's Ransom. But with this score, now you got me curious to watch.
I still think it looks a little bit like Mel Gibson's Ransom. But with this score, now you got me curious to watch.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:00AM on 09/05/2013
Does it really tho? Lol
Does it really tho? Lol
4:14AM on 09/05/2013
wow a 10/10. is it really that good? Guess I'll have to give it a look see.
wow a 10/10. is it really that good? Guess I'll have to give it a look see.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:33AM on 09/05/2013
Whoa, 10/10? I've got to watch this.
Whoa, 10/10? I've got to watch this.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:32AM on 09/05/2013

Wow!

I was already onboard with this film when the first trailers hit. I didn't think much of it when it was in development with different actors approaching it. But these rave reviews, especially this perfect score, have me chomping at the bit to get my ass in the theater to see this on opening day,
I was already onboard with this film when the first trailers hit. I didn't think much of it when it was in development with different actors approaching it. But these rave reviews, especially this perfect score, have me chomping at the bit to get my ass in the theater to see this on opening day,
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+2
2:15AM on 09/05/2013

It looks amaing but.....

I saw the trailer and it hit me like a sucker punch. These stories about kidnapped and abused children are the toughest to watch. It looks like a great movie and I can't wait to see it. That said, I'll be really disappointed if they wimp out on the end and make the parents the villains for trying to get a confession out of the creepy guy who seems like the obvious villain (which of course makes me believe he's probably innocent).

Too many Hollywood movies are killed by their directors'
I saw the trailer and it hit me like a sucker punch. These stories about kidnapped and abused children are the toughest to watch. It looks like a great movie and I can't wait to see it. That said, I'll be really disappointed if they wimp out on the end and make the parents the villains for trying to get a confession out of the creepy guy who seems like the obvious villain (which of course makes me believe he's probably innocent).

Too many Hollywood movies are killed by their directors' blind adherence to their ideology and I'll be curious to see if this turns into a lecture about judging people, or if he let's it go crazy-dark, but in the end justify the inhuman lengths these people are willing to go to save their kids.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:48AM on 09/05/2013

I heard.......

this is a follow up to The Wolverine, it picks up where it ended. Professor X and Magneto ask him to help them fight what's coming he says no and ends up moving in with a single mom and her kids. In the end Hugh Jackman tracks down the guy who took the kids and stabs him with his bone claws, only to find out as the guy is dying he is working for someone named Mr. Sinister. That gets him back into the fight and leads into X-Men: Days of Futures Past. Make sure and stay til the end credits!
this is a follow up to The Wolverine, it picks up where it ended. Professor X and Magneto ask him to help them fight what's coming he says no and ends up moving in with a single mom and her kids. In the end Hugh Jackman tracks down the guy who took the kids and stabs him with his bone claws, only to find out as the guy is dying he is working for someone named Mr. Sinister. That gets him back into the fight and leads into X-Men: Days of Futures Past. Make sure and stay til the end credits!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
4:16AM on 09/05/2013
what? LOL!
what? LOL!
7:52AM on 09/05/2013
How many times does he yell "JEAN!!" in this one?
How many times does he yell "JEAN!!" in this one?
1:39AM on 09/05/2013
Having 2 little girls myself, the trailers gave me the chills. Hearing that it's that good, makes my skin crawl. I can't wait to see it. Good review. Thanks.
Having 2 little girls myself, the trailers gave me the chills. Hearing that it's that good, makes my skin crawl. I can't wait to see it. Good review. Thanks.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:27AM on 09/05/2013

Wow...

You know, from the trailers I've seen I was expecting a fairly generic thriller. From everything you've said C-Bum, it's obviously a can't miss. Wow man, I wasn't expecting this. I'll be checking this out as soon as possible and it definitely is in consideration for a future chat. With a review like this, I'd love to see what everyone else feels about this.
You know, from the trailers I've seen I was expecting a fairly generic thriller. From everything you've said C-Bum, it's obviously a can't miss. Wow man, I wasn't expecting this. I'll be checking this out as soon as possible and it definitely is in consideration for a future chat. With a review like this, I'd love to see what everyone else feels about this.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:15AM on 09/05/2013
Wow, didn't see a full marks review coming. It looked interesting from the trailers but also seemed like it had the danger of being derivative; like a direct-to-DVD plot with an A-list cast. Glad to hear that is not the case. It sounds like it will be genuinely, profoundly disturbing - any time a film can get its audience to think about a real-life issue after portraying said issue in a non-exploitative way, that's always excellent.
Wow, didn't see a full marks review coming. It looked interesting from the trailers but also seemed like it had the danger of being derivative; like a direct-to-DVD plot with an A-list cast. Glad to hear that is not the case. It sounds like it will be genuinely, profoundly disturbing - any time a film can get its audience to think about a real-life issue after portraying said issue in a non-exploitative way, that's always excellent.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:29AM on 09/05/2013
Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Now, it's on my must see list.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Now, it's on my must see list.
View All Comments

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...
JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!