Release Date
September 20, 2013
Denis Villeneuve
Aaron Guzikowski
Cinematography By
Roger A. Deakins
Distributed By
Warner Bros. Pictures
$46 million
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout
153 minutes


What can only be described as an epic, slow burn thriller, “Prisoners” is a direct descendant of the dark worlds shaped by director David Fincher. With drained color and constant dreariness in every scene, the films tone is off the charts. The drizzling rain and stormy days may seem somewhat heavy handed, but these choices suck you into this world and drain the hope right out of you. Director Denis Villeneuve wastes no time providing false hope or building a world where life is normal. Within the first twenty minutes, the girls are gone and you’ll be amazed at how long Villeneuve can string you through the hunt. Built with strong performances from everyone involved and bringing to light some precedent subjects like torture and the human psyche, the film takes hold and never lets go.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the highlight of the film as Detective Loki, bringing a silent charisma and unending bravado that provides this stern drama with everything that it needs to keep going. Hugh Jackman makes some definitive choices in his role, but ultimately comes off monotonous and loud throughout the entire film, but I’d make a case that this is the point, leading to an eventual ending that serves up justice in all directions. Terrence Howard and Maria Bello slightly phone-in their performances, not given much to work with, while Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, and Viola Davis all give above par performances. “Prisoners” deals with slight of hand and a realistic look at a detective working in a small town.

As Loki uncovers many of the dark secrets throughout the town, he finds that they might be more interconnected than he could have imagined. Apart from feeling slightly ahead of all the case revelations, the thriller still holds its surprises and has you guessing until the very end. With a superb and subtle ending, concluding the film at the exact perfect moment, this film will stay with you. Plus, any film that can tout a 150 minute run-time and still keep the suspense building and the story interesting is a massive achievement.


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