Movie Review: Prisoners

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Prisoners: You’ll be chained to your seat

I prepared myself for this movie thinking I was in store for a Taken sort of plot line — an enemy takes a family member and then the father kills anyone in his way. However, I was quite mistaken. Early in the film I realized this was not the blood-and-guts action romp with a Liam Neeson-esque character. But do not mistake me: I was pleasantly surprised. The world does not need another Taken. Instead, Prisoners revolves around a journey into the dark reaches of the human mind with a faceless enemy: fear.

The plot of Prisoners preys on a parent’s worst nightmare: losing your children. The majority of the film is a combination of coping and aggressively, if misguidedly, pursuing all leads of the possible perpetrators. Keller Dover, played by Hugh Jackman, is a carpenter and father of the kidnapped child. Dover is forced down a path that forces him to question his morals, friends and himself in his quest to find his daughter.

Keller’s foil character is his neighbor and friend, Franklin Birch, who is masterfully played by Terrence Howard. Birch has also lost his daughter, but is less willing to bloody his hands in pursuit of information about his daughter’s whereabouts.

The third angle of the story comes through the eyes of the vigilant protagonist, Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki. Loki allows the audience a look into all perspectives of the story including false leads, scapegoats and an increasing conspiracy of kidnappings only he can see. As the plot progresses, former heroes turn into grotesque versions of themselves while some suspects make me question why I was rooting for this person in spite of his violence.

Prisoners represents the best both psychological and action thrillers have to offer. The combination of constant anxiety, fear and a deep introspection about human identity and morality are all reasons to see this film. However, I was able to take a hard look at the psychotic interworking within both villains and heroes most one-dimensional characters miss. Prisoners kept me, willingly or unwillingly, thrilled and yet still gave me hope of rescue from the evils of the world.



Coconino Community College
Student Housing at NAU