Brian’s Review – “Prisoners” (2013)


What’s it About?

When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts.


Directed by Denis Villeneuve

6 out of 10

By Brian

Writing a review for a film like Prisoners is a tricky proposition. The majority of both the positive and negative aspects of the experience are tied into the plot reveals as you go along. As I pride myself on being a spoiler-free reviewer, I’ll try my best to rate the movie making and leave the reveals to the readers if they choose to watch it.

The craft of this movie is very solid. There’s a shroud over this film that hangs around your neck. As the film takes you to darker and darker places, the environment in the film gets grayer. Similar to what David Fincher’s “Seven” did. The environment itself is a character in the film.

Any film dealing with child abduction is going to give a parent a knot in their stomach. The problem is how do you give the film a palpable feeling of reality? Dark camera work and pouring rain aren’t enough. Any film of this type requires strong performances to sell the grief and desperation of the parents. Luckily, Hugh Jackman brings an intensity to “Prisoners” that creates an unpredictability and humanity to his character. Several times I could put myself in his shoes and wonder if I would go as far as he did to find my child and more often than not, I would.

The negative aspects of this movie really revolve around subjects I can’t discuss in a spoiler-free review. So, I’ll just say that the final twist is a huge disappointment. They had me hook, line, and sinker until the last 25 minutes or so. All of the plot progressions had a believability until you find out why. I still can give a mild recommendation for “Prisoners.” It’s worth watching to see how good Hugh Jackman can be when given such dark material.

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  1. I liked it a little more than you did, but my biggest issue was that the film didn’t go dark enough. . .You know what I mean without spoiling anything. I have been mulling how to write this review for a couple days. I really need to go into spoilers to review it properly, but I hate doing spoiler reviews . . .

    • Include the spoilers, but give fair warning. I hate to do that as well, but sometimes, there isn’t a choice.

  2. Cool review. I still have to check out the movie, but I hate watching something that could have been “brilliant” if a little more attention to detail won the day.

    • My thoughts as well. I do have this movie lined up to watch soon (This was one flick that fell thru the cracks and I am a bit late getting to it) and I am already a bit apprehensive but ya never know, I may still end up digging it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Bill!

      • I often wonder how some stories get greenlit – or worse, how they change into something tepid along the way. Storytelling has to come first.

        Thanks for having me, Vic!

  3. Nice review Brian. This is a long one, but the cast is what makes it worth sticking around for. Even by the end when things begin to get pretty darn conventional and obvious.

  4. Thanks for all the great comments. If you all would prefer a spoiler review with a strict warning at the top, I can go that route. As a rule I always go spoiler free because I know how much it pisses me off when someone does a spoiler filled review and I didn’t notice the warning at the top. As far as the film goes, I agreed that it needed a darker last third of the film. It wayyyyy too tidy given the buildup. Hugh Jackman’s character goes to some dark places and he sells it well, but the script tidies everything up in a conventional way that spoils it from being special.

    • When I write a review that has spoilers, I bracket the spoiled bits in bold red so no one will miss it. Often, I keep them after the regular review to not hinder the average reader.

  5. The end may not have been as great as it could have been, but I still really liked this one. Well, maybe “liked” isn’t the right word. Haha. I thought it was an intriguing story and the performances were great. Nice review! Sorry the ending seems to have ruined it a bit for you. 😦

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