Movie Review: Prisoners (Confirmed: Epic!)

Could Prisoners be the best drama of 2013?

     Over the past few months I have been a prisoner of my own life starting a new job, taking four graduate classes, and planning something super special in my personal life that I can’t talk about until the end of October.  However I have not forgotten about the Epic Review as Jerry (Barbecue 17) has done an incredible job planning events like Hokey Halloween Horror months for September and October.  While my plan is to return to The Epic Review on a full time basis sometime during the second half of January 2014, I will try to jump in from time to time reviewing some of the many films Hollywood has in store for us for what looks like an insanely busy Fall and Winter release schedule, starting with the first major release from a relatively new Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve: Prisoners, after the break.

Prisoners is a film to be "Thankful" for in 2013!

     In Prisoners, director Denis Villeneuve takes audiences on an extremely visceral and emotional roller coaster ride in the form of a child kidnapping case that provides twists and turns at what seems like every corner.  The film uses the tool of an incredibly talented cast to bring to life the angst and turmoil that you would expect to accompany any real life child abduction.  The story goes through the material shown in the trailers for this film fairly quickly as the families of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) gather for what looks like a very heartwarming Thanksgiving amongst friends.  This routine Turkey Day turns into a nightmare once the Dover’s and the Birch’s realize both of their youngest daughters have gone missing.  Enter Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal); the stereotypical hot shot cop who has solved every case he has been assigned.

Stop me if you heard this trope before-- A Hot Shot Cop who has solved every case!

     The story then takes audiences on a two-and-a-half-hour-plus emotionally draining journey as Loki and the families stop at nothing to find the two young girls.  It's a journey that doesn’t really break any new ground but fires on all cylinders nonetheless; this is made possible by not only the incredible acting you expect from this cast, but also the strong cinematography and direction of Villeneuve that adds a whole new layer to this gut wrenching tale.  The film is shot so well considering the harsh on-location weather the cast and crew went through to highlight the type of conditions the two missing young girls may be suffering through.  The film is also paced extremely well, as each act of the film provides audiences with its own climax that makes the longer run time more rewarding than it is daunting.  

Prisoners is a gritty but beautifully shot film!

      Besides the three leads, every single member of this cast brings something to the table, adding to the realism of the film.  Viola Davis (Nancy Birch) and Maria Bello (Grace Dover) provide the type of pure fear and helplessness you expect from any mother in this situation.  When it comes to fear, no one in this film provides that more than accused abductor Alex Jones (Paul Dano) who makes your skin crawl every time the seemingly helpless character is on the screen.

How can Paul Dano seem so innocent and be so creepy at the same time?

     Overall, Prisoners walks the fine line from being just a great film to being a truly Epic one.  With that being said, I think Prisoners comes together perfectly and provides enough twists and turns to keep audiences invested for an extremely long running time to warrant an EPIC rating.  Now, is Prisoners the type of film I would add to my Blu-ray collection? Probably not, but it is one I would highly recommend for a wide audience of people to make sure they see at least once. Because, all things considered, this film may end up being the best pure drama of 2013.



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