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Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing (and disturbing) viewing.
All Critics (239)
| Top Critics (55)
| Fresh (193)
| Rotten (46)
| DVD (2)
Jackman is still in his phase of high-masculine misery... The entire performance is an exclamation point, and he swings it like a baseball bat.
Prisoners is weary after ten minutes, and I suppose it has persuaded itself that its length is justified by its solemn gaze into the abyss.
A certain dour realist vigour keeps the nightmare alive.
In less talented hands, the story could lapse into the maudlin. But Villeneuve, director of the Oscar-nominated Incendies, seems to know just how far to go; only one moment feels less than authentic, but it would be a spoiler to mention it.
It's got lofty aspirations but it also wants to wallow in the muck - to thrill you and sicken you in equal measure while also being About Something.
Ethical exploration or exploitation? In the end, I come down reservedly on the former side: the work done here by Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and especially Villeneuve is simply too powerful to ignore.
Attempting to present torture in a way that neither endorses nor condones the act, the film feels trapped in a sticky web of moral musing which it never fully comprehends.
Prisoners is watchable and holds attention, but for those not sold on its specific thoughts on religious good and evil, it winds up being more popcorn than profound by the finale.
The movie is compelling but clumsy and would have benefited massively from an edit.
Whenever you can set aside a few hours for this thing, go and see it. Just be prepared for it: this ain't a movie you can just casually watch.
Prisoners is the best film I have seen so far this year and one people will be debating about for some time to come.
Guzikowski's well-honed thriller occasionally idles under Villeneuve's dark character studies, but the director's powerfully imposed mood of dread elevates what might otherwise have been just a superior police procedural.
With fantastic performances (Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar), an extremely complex script so well written in every single detail and a phenomenal direction that invests in a slow-burning tension with perfection, Prisoners is certainly one of the best films of the year.
Outstanding acting, a tight, mesmerizing and engaging script and the directing make this one of the most exciting and best thrillers of recent years. The themes and questions raised here together with the images stay with you for a very long time. A gem of the genre.
Grim, ugly and violent. Good acting but not enjoyable as a viewing experience.
After a man's daughter is kidnapped, he resort to torturing the police's prime suspect in order to discover her whereabouts.
As a thriller, this film follows the basic genre conventions. It's tense, mysterious, and occasionally compelling. However, it seems the film's ambitions are beyond a basic genre film. A lot of the film's exposition establishes Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) as a survivalist -- a right-wing, anti-establishmentarian -- in order to explain his extreme behavior later. But this theme remains undeveloped. I can imagine a good film that questions whether a man's personal moral compass should override the moral compass that most reasonable people agree to, but by the second act, the film devolves into torture porn and the generic dramatic questions overtake the film's philosophical musings.
Jackman has never been an impressive actor, and what depth we see in Keller comes from the script, not his performance. The same can be said of Jake Gyllenhaal, and unfortunately the plot renders Maria Bello catatonic halfway through the film. The best performance is by Paul Dano, who never fails to impress.
Overall, as a thriller, Prisoners fits the genre, but as anything more, it's close but not quite.
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