Prisoners 2013 Movie Review
That ‘Prisoners’ is directed by Denis Villeneuve, has cinematography by Roger Deakins and a music score from Johann Johannsson promised a big deal, having seen ‘Sicario’ and being blown away by its brilliance, especially in these areas. As did having a cast of talented actors such as Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Viola Davis and Melissa Leo.
‘Prisoners’ almost lives up to the acclaimed hype with most of the film being absolutely exceptional, but doesn’t quite make it. Its only major stumbling block is that it spirals out of control towards the end, the tension does slip, there are big lapses in credibility and characters’ actions and morality issues become implausible and much less believable. Having been so impressed with the rest of the film, this was a real pity. Maybe it is a little overlong too.
On the other hand, Roger Deakins shows again why he is one of the best contemporary cinematographers in the business with cinematography that’s stunning and darkly gritty, also bringing out the visceral horror. The production values in general are impeccably audacious and deeply haunting and the editing is suitably stylish.
Johannsson’s music score is suitably ominous and pulse-pulsating, one can actually feel their heart beat with tension and anticipation.Villeneuve’s directing has a beautiful darkness but also a hard edge that is perfect for the story.
While the script is not quite as taut as that for ‘Sicario’, it does provoke thought and its unsettled nature hits hard. The story is not perfect, but a vast majority of it is nail-biting in tension, frightening in its suspense and very much edge of your seat. It is very violent and is not for the faint hearted because it is so vivid and the turn of events are unpredictable and devastating. It’s deliberate in pacing but never dull, despite slacking towards the end.
Characters are interesting, especially Jackman’s increasingly unpredictable Keller Dover. You don’t condone what he’s done and his actions are extreme and one can sort of understand why he resorts to such drastic measures.
Jackman is at his most hard-hitting, a shocking atypical performance that is among his best. Gyllenhaal is firm and understated, Dano is at his most unnerving and at times affecting and Terrence Howard gives one of the best performances he’s ever given (showing that with the right material, like here, that he can be good).Davis and Leo, as to be expected, are outstanding, as is a poignant Maria Bello.
In summary, ‘Prisoners’ may be long in length yet high in suspense and tension. It had all the makings of an exceptional film, and actually was for most of its running time, but that the ending disappoints as much it does it goes down to being a very good one. 8/10 Bethany Cox.