The sort of movie I wish MUBI had half-stars for. When it cut to the title card at the end, a kid behind me said 'That movie was terrible!' while some people on the other side of the theater started clapping. I can see both points of view, but as a cinematic experience this is a gorgeous, sombre, doom-haunted ride that knows exactly the right moment to end, and I can forgive a lot when a film knows that much.
Wide releases rarely come in such complex, morally ambiguous packages, but Denis Villeneuve's gripping thriller about a father who takes matters into his own hands after the police release the man he suspects of kidnapping his daughter reaches places few mainstream thrillers dare to go. Weaves a taut and twisty tale, deeply troubling and psychological. TAKEN with the sensibilities and restraint of ZODIAC.
The low growl of Hugh Jackman intoning the Lord's Prayer sets the opener for this thoughtful thriller. Jake Gyllenhall as the dour cop at crime scene ratchets up the tension, but the slow pace never wavers. Villeneuve has captured two extraordinary performances from these actors, one that reflects the obsessions and weaknesses of the individual, while the other ticks internally from a life spent in institutions.
Bit overrated; and when you really think about it - kind of nonsensical.. That said, it features solid turns from Jackman/Gyllenhaal, but most importantly more brilliance from Deakins. However, the end result really just isn't anything more than paperback thriller-level material trying and trying to elevate itself and masquerade as something more. Maybe Villeneuve can get his hands on a better script next time.
Denis Villeneuve, for me, is an inventive and exploratory director. His newest film, although shrouded in Hollywood, does not disappoint. This film is not as exceptional and important as Polytechnique or Incendies, but it is far superior than most American films in the same vein. It is masterfully directed, stylishly lensed, minimally scored, and although it's predictable... it's still a tense and thrilling journey.
Could've been so much more. When pieces start fitting together and the investigation picks up steam it falls apart. What goes from a disturbingly bleak tale on loss and lack of closure turns into a film bordering on cute. The performances(especially Jackman, what can't he do?!), the filmmaking and the work of Roger Deakins make this an impressive film but the story fails to be in the same ballpark.
Prisoners is dishonest with itself. It's a thriller masquerading as an epic exploration of morality. Villeneuve would have us believe solemnity and protraction make the film important, but that's just not so (esp. when it resorts to the talkative antagonist trope). The cast is terrific, it looks great, and some sequences are fantastic, but it is overlong & contains a cop-out conclusion. Could have been great, though.
98/100 ~ MASTERFUL. Boasting powerful performances, a strong visual design, and, most importantly, a sophisticated script, Prisoners achieves what few recent Hollywood productions have accomplished: a film that delivers on both the commercial and cinematic front. http://nextprojection.com/2013/09/07/tiff-2013-review-prisoners-2013-np-approved/