Prisoners (2013) Miller Meter-10/10

Directed By:  Denis Villeneuve

Written By:  Aaron Guzikowski

Starring:  Hugh Jackman,  Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello

R     2 h 33 min – Crime | Drama | Thriller

Directed by visionary French Canadian Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Maelstrom) and written by Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband) the film is backed by an absolute power house of talent.  Keller Dover (Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Howard) spend Thanksgiving with each other’s families.  That afternoon they discover that their daughters are missing.  Immediately panic ensues and the search begins.  Earlier that day the girls were playing on what they thought to be a vacant RV…turns out it wasn’t and boom!  There’s the first suspect.  His name is Alex Jones (Dano), a meek quiet creepy looking adolescent who’s apparently got the IQ of a ten year old, making him a difficult perp to interrogate.  Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) doesn’t buy it, and goes at him pretty hard.  Loki is the one assigned to the case of the missing girls, kick is, he’s never lost a case before so the pressure is on.

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A few days pass and the police haven’t accrued much in terms of evidence against Jones, so they release him.  Enraged (rightfully so) Keller Dover shows up and as he takes Alex to the ground, a small piece of information reluctantly slips from his mouth, giving Dover every right to believe he either did it, or knows who did and where the girls are.  It was too quiet for anyone else to hear (of course) but that doesn’t stop him from pushing a little further.  Keller and Franklin end up kidnapping the boy and torturing him unless he gives up the girls’ whereabouts.  At this point the plot thickens, speeds up and skyrockets.  Its suspense rivaled anything the late and great Hitchcock had under his sleeve and kept me guessing until the very end.

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It was easily one of the most powerful films I have ever seen, and it doesn’t let up for one second through the film’s entirety.  Its puzzling and daringly dark performances and dialogue keep your pulse high throughout.  Hugh Jackman better take home the Oscar for this one as it was easily the best performance of his career.  His performance had me shaken and chilled right down to the bone.  Terrence Howard was electrifying.  He channeled so much emotion that at times I had a hard time just being there watching.  Sitting in the theater I wondered if along with the AC being on they somehow managed to increase the weight of gravity.  Oddly I would have to say that Gyllenhaal was my favorite part of the film.  His quirky yet sincere and honest vulnerability made me love his character.  I felt like he took the words from the page and truly invented the PERFECT anti-hero.

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I was on the edge of my seat destroying my finger nails, sweating, and on a few occasions holding back tears.  The films crescendo was flawless, giving you exactly what you needed to understand the story and resolve the characters conflict.  The end was magnificent as I was completely satisfied and not for one second did it lose me.  Incredible performances by the entire cast, beautiful cinematography, an epic score and flawless filmmaking land this one a 10 on the Meter.

 

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