Jake GyllenHaal and Hugh Jackman in “Prisoners”
With the release of the Lee Daniel’s The Butler all anyone can talk about is how Oscar season is in full swing, but in all honesty its just getting started. We’re still getting through the blockbusters that didn’t make the summer cut. So before anyone starts calling films like Prisoners Oscar worthy take a good look at what won is previous years. You’ll find nothing, but independent films that tackle major issues like Rape, murder, war, and the occasional leader with a speech impediment. Prisoners, certainly does fit into the aforementioned categories, but it lacks in substance and overall delivery.
Hugh Jackman plays an overbearing father by the name of Keller Drover; He believes that by readying yourself for the worst, you’ll be set for the end of the world. What Drover doesn’t realize is that his dreams of zombie apocalypses or world war three are far from the hell he is about to experience Thanksgiving Day. So on this annual occasion two white-collar families with names like Birch and Drover whom know each other by way of the 9-5 grind. As well as being happy go lucky neighbors is always helps when finding yourself in another couple’s living room shootin’ the shit and attempting to play odd instruments like the trumpet. As Terence Howard’s Franklin Birch does to everyone in the room’s amusement. It’s during this holiday get together when the two children suddenly disappear along with a sketchy looking RV. The Drovers over-react to the situation and Jackman’s performance suddenly changes from a controlled anger to a man on the edge that’s willing to cross any line to find his daughter. Whereas his wife Grace played by Maria Bello becomes a bedridden pharmaceutical junkie that that may never leave the house again. The trumpet touting Franklin and his wife Nancy, an observative Viola Davis, that clearly tries to act like Drover’s moral compass. Seem to takes the horrific news a little less dramatic and actively help the police search for their missing girls.
Hot Shot Detective Loki, a very good Jake Gyllenhaal, has always closed a case. No matter where he was or under hectic circumstances like Drover and many put him in. He always has figured it out. So its no surprise that within the first twenty-four hours of this missing children’s case, he has found the RV and its child of a driver Alex Jones (Paul Dano). Dano who is always good in these dark roles that push the line of was he involved or was really innocent? Has been reduced to looking through an eyehole the entire film. Dano has a few Brief scenes, in which we see him and his childish ways, but it’s only through Detective Loki’s laborious interrogations or with Mommy dearest Holly (Melissa Leo), that Dano is allowed to breath in the open.
Prisoners is in fact a decent film shot by Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins. As there are many images and exterior sequences in this film that look like they came straight out of David Fincher’s Zodiac. Deakins makes good use of the Arri Alexa and makes the digital format look like it’s a good quality film stock.
Prisoners leaves the viewer to decide what the characters in the film do after the credits roll, but it also leaves one feeling cheapened by it was well. A good twenty minutes could fit on the back end of it, assuming this footage does exist one really has nothing to lose after sitting in the theatre for two and a half hours, would another twenty more really hurt?
All of that aside Prisoners is in fact a good fall open, but its one that will be easily forgotten as films like Kill your Darlings, Captain Phillips, and The Dallas Buyers Club are released in the weeks to come.