Prisoners - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Prisoners Reviews

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August 10, 2016
Melissa Leo's character fell victim to a cliche'd performance midway through the film, but Jackman and Gyllenhaal kept it alive throughout. Well written story and excellently timed plotting and scripting that leaves the viewer as engaged and surprised as the characters in the story.
½ August 4, 2016
There's a frustrating red herring about halfway through and final act feels convoluted in comparison to the gut wrenching,morally complicated and emotionally complex 2 hours that preceded it; however, it's gripping from beginning to end with 2 phenomenal performances.
August 3, 2016
De no ser por un detalle forzado en el final, serķa un thriller perfecto
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2016
A great drama with excellent performances from both Jackman and
Gyllenhaal, although lessened by an unnecessarily complicated plot.
July 26, 2016
One of the best movies of all time. The definition of a true suspense film.
July 25, 2016
Prisoners is a near perfect movie, with great performances from all cast members involved, the standouts being Hugh Jackman and especially Jake Gyllenhaal, who gives not only the best performance of his career, but also the best performance of the year. A great, great, great movie, also directed perfectly with great cinematography from Roger Deakins.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2016
With fantastic performances (Gyllenhaal deserved 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.
½ July 21, 2016
What a letdown boring movie
July 19, 2016
One of the best screenplays ever written, but I don't think I could ever watch this again.
½ July 14, 2016
Despite predicting part of the finale, the execution was done excellently.
July 13, 2016
Amazing movie! Great acting, tense and mysterious throughout. The end is very surprising and makes you want to see just a little more!
July 11, 2016
I saw this for Jackman and Gyllenhaal and it was a great experience. Both shine, and it was nice to see Jackman as more of an 'average' working-class citizen who would do anything for his family as opposed to some superhero or vigilante vampire hunter.. The film grabbed me throughout and the story and the acting are both great. It's not an instant classic, but it's a refreshing thriller that doesn't bore you to death with gratuitous explosions.
July 6, 2016
I will hand it to this movie that it is anything but straight forward. That said, it's also just VICIOUS as hell... a movie about ethics and victim blaming. Slow at points ( a lot of points) but at least the ending has enough twists and turns that you forgive it for taking so long to get there. I was very impressed with Gyllenhaal, fantastic character.
Edit: Rewatched this and still loved it. Love the piercing commentary on Bush era-torture and the inherent failures of vigilante justice.
July 4, 2016
Director, Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Sicario) has an amazing sense of direction, and imagination. Loved this movie, amazing work of art! Also, cinematographer, Roger Deakins, spectacular job for giving the film an eerie vibe. 5/5 stars!
June 25, 2016
Tight, tight, tight.
½ June 19, 2016
Unpredictable, well-acted and well-shot.
June 18, 2016
the trailer for this movie did nothing for me. after seeing it I am blown away. this is by far one of the best movies of the year. Denis Villeneuve crafted one of the most grim and emotionally thrilling movies I have seen since the silence of the lambs.
½ June 8, 2016
C'est pas mauvais, mais c'est long et lent un peu pour rien. Pour faire du style...
June 7, 2016
What a great movie! performances, filmography, screenplay are really good. The perfect example of a thriller is. You must watch it.
½ June 4, 2016
A powerful, dramatic mystery/thriller that manages the increasingly rare feat of not only being tautly-paced and viscerally involving but also emotionally and intellectually resonant. This was one that I'd been wanting to see from the moment it was first brought to my attention and I'm not sure why it took so long for me to finally get around to it but for anything of this high quality, I suppose that it's better late than not at all. If I had to play the comparison game, I'd say that this film gives an approximation of what you could expect if someone had cross-pollinated the plot elements from a pair of recent Dennis Lehane adaptions - Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, to be exact - transplanted the setting from Boston to a western Pennsylvanian suburb and then put someone like David Fincher in the director's chair. Like Gone Baby Gone, this one revolves around the disappearance of a child (actually a pair of children in this case) and it doesn't pay lip service to the moral and ethical dilemmas that haunt the protagonists as they investigate the circumstances revolving around said disappearance. Here however, instead of a pair of emotionally unattached private detectives, our lead this time is the very much emotionally involved father of one of the missing girls, which is where the Mystic River parallel kicks in. Like the 2003 film, this one pulls no punches in depicting the lengths to which a grieving father will go to assuage and avenge an emotionally devastating loss, even if attaining that sense of closure means stepping outside the boundaries of the law and resorting to actions that, under normal circumstances, would be deemed unconscionable and maybe even unspeakable. It probably goes without saying that this is not lighthearted, upbeat entertainment; much like the majority of David Fincher's films, it's a dark, gritty and moody affair that isn't averse to exploring uncomfortable and often disturbing subject matter (including depictions of torture). Apparently, the initial cut of the film was graphic enough to earn an NC-17 before some edits were made to convince the MPAA to award an R rating. Quite frankly though, there are still scenes even in the edited version that some may find too difficult to watch fully (consider this your fair warning people). Also, like the Fight Club/Seven director's output, this one benefits from an overpowering sense of atmosphere (although this probably isn't quite the equal of Fincher at his stylistic best). Most of the movie takes place either at night or during the rain (and sometimes snow) and even the few daytime scenes that don't feature some kind of inclement weather are still shrouded in a perpetual state of cloud cover (give the proper due credit to veteran cinematographer and frequent Coen Brothers collaborator Roger Deakins, who was duly honored with the lone Oscar nomination of the film for his work here). This film, expertly brought to the screen by French Canadian film-maker Denis Villeneuve, may have a number of antecedents but it successfully manages to transcend those influences and leave its own uniquely indelible mark on the viewer's psyche.

The key to Prisoner's staggering success begins with its plot, which is brilliantly realized. To often, with mystery stories, the tendency is to present a group of characters, throw in some sort of crime that needs to be solved, offer up a slew of generic and easily predicted "twists" and then try to "surprise" us by revealing which of the characters is the culprit (usually complete with the dread "Talking Killer" syndrome where the bad guy spills the beans about his or her schemes while giving the protagonist ample opportunity to get the upper hand). Although some of these elements are present after a fashion in this case, the method of their inclusion is far more intelligent and unpredictable than the average Hollywood take on this kind of story. Villeneuve, along with screenwriter Aaron Gruzikowski, weaves a singularly involving tapestry that takes a number of seemingly disparate plot threads and ties them altogether in a satisfying manner. This film rewards the thinking viewer rather than punish those who dare to use their brains and a second viewing reveals just how well everything comes together.

In addition to its strong story-line and impeccable sense of direction, Prisoners has been blessed with an impressive cast that's headed up by Hugh Jackman (as Keller Dover, the father of one of the missing girls) and Jake Gyllenhaal (as Loki, the lead detective on the case), both of whom have rarely (if ever) been better than they are here. Joining them are Maria Bello (as Dover's wife, Grace), Terence Howard and Viola Davis (as Franklin and Nancy Birch, the parents of the other missing girl and the reluctant co-conspirators in Dover's plan to exact revenge and get answers for the girls' kidnapping), Paul Dano (as Alex Jones, the mentally-handicapped chief suspect in the case who ends being subject to Keller's torture) and Melissa Leo (as Alex's aunt Holly). All of these actors and actresses are well-respected and, with the exception of Bello and Dano (at least as of this writing in 2016), all have been nominated at least once for an Oscar (with Leo winning for her performance in 2010's The Fighter) so naturally with a cast of this caliber, there are certain expectations that come attached; thankfully everyone proves more than equally to this daunting task and no one, even amongst the actors in bit parts, is found wanting. In particular, Jackman stands out as the grief-stricken Keller; he brings his character's torment, grief, anger and confusion to the forefront every bit as forcefully as Sean Penn did in Mystic River. The actor is arguably even better here than he was in 2012's Les Miserables adaptation (for which he was awarded his Oscar nomination). This is the side of Jackman at which we only occasionally get glimpses in the X-Men or standalone Wolverine films (which are arguably still his best known roles). There are times when we feel deeply for Keller and others still when we might be tempted to hate his guts (although he probably hates himself as much if not more as he recognizes that some of his actions throughout the course of the film often contravene his deeply held moral and religious beliefs) and it's Jackman's performance more than anything that facilitates these very complex emotions we have towards this very complex character. Matching him beat for beat is Jake Gyllenhaal who builds on his work in 2012's End of Watch (where he also portrayed a cop) and fashions Loki as a lonely but driven detective who's committed to his job (possibly to a fault) but isn't fully prepared for the emotional and moral dark places to which his latest case takes him (one scene in particular where he lashes out in frustration at his desk drives home the point very clearly and powerfully). The rest of the cast lifts the burden off the top-billed duo and nearly everyone has at least on scene in which he or she is allowed to really shine (Dano, in particular, succeeds at bringing a mixture of unsettling creepiness and child-like innocence to his character that inspires equal parts revulsion and sympathy in the viewer). In many ways, it's a damn shame that Prisoners didn't get more attention at the 2013 Oscar ceremony because there's more than enough here to have easily justified multiple nominations, particularly for the powerhouse performances of the cast.

To say much more about this film would be to reveal entirely too much that would be better left for the individual viewer to uncover on his or her own but, for anyone who craves stories aimed at thinking adults, this should be considered as ironclad of a must-see as anything currently out on the market. In addition to offering the requisite genre thrills (including enough tension and suspense for multiple stories), it provides a healthy portion of compelling drama and more than enough thought-provoking and disturbing material to gnaw at the soul for days (or even weeks) and, even at a running length of over two and a half hours, the movie manages to be well-paced and engaging for every single second, right up to the last frame. Best of all, even though it brings the central mystery to a satisfying conclusion, it doesn't feel the need to tie everything up in a neat and clean package just to placate adherents of conventional Hollywood fare; some viewers may be frustrated (possibly even angered) by how Villeneuve and Gruzikowski elect to close things out but I found the ending to be fitting for the grim and uncertain tone of the story. This movie's title may connote a confined state of mind but quite frankly I couldn't have been happier to be taken captive and held in this film's thrall as it was unspooling its intricate and complex tale of crime and punishment. It's well worth the expenditure of a couple hours of anyone's time.
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