Prisoners ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
Prisoners is a relentlessly bleak (gray clouds, rain and snow, no bright colors, somber background music) story about two young girls, Anna and Joy, who vanish in their own neighborhood on Thanksgiving Day. Anna and Joy are friends, as are their families. The two families have just shared Thanksgiving dinner together when they discover the girls are missing. The only thing different that anybody notices that day is a camper truck parked on the street in the neighborhood that doesn’t belong, with sounds coming from inside.
When the police have a suspect in custody, a child-like young man with the mental age of ten years named Alex Jones (played by the ever-strange Paul Dano), they have to release him after 48 hours because they cannot produce any evidence against him. The father of the one of the girls, Keller Dover (played by Hugh Jackman), is outraged that Alex Jones is being released because he feels certain that he at least knows where the girls are. Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands. He abducts Alex Jones and takes him to an abandoned apartment building he owns, where he repeatedly beats him, trying to get him to tell what he knows. If Alex knows anything, he isn’t talking; he barely seems to know what is going on.
The soulful-eyed police inspector on the case, Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhall), investigates every possible lead, trying to make sense of the senseless. What he lacks in fashion sense he makes up for in dedication to his work. He wants to find the missing girls as much as the parents do but is frustrated every step of the way.
Prisoners is gripping and involving. If it’s not one of the best movies of the year, it’ll have to do until the real thing comes along. It will keep you guessing right up to the end. It might also make you feel like crying when it’s over. The first couple of minutes will probably make you cringe, if you, like me, can’t stand the offensive sight of a deer being shot and killed. I’m assuming, however, that it’s a computer-generated deer since we are told in the closing credits that “no animals were harmed in the making of this picture.” Fake deer or not, I would have liked it a lot better if the bullet had missed and the deer had run off into the woods.
Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp