Prisoners (d. Denis Villeneuve USA 2013)

Prisoners (d. Denis Villeneuve USA 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability: starfish starfish

Technical: starfish starfish starfish 


Prisoners is a dark film, reflecting quite a critical outlook. There are nice moments that merely help to emphasise the dark moments. Its complexity bound up in its characters, putting a heavy weight on the principal cast, there is a questioning of psychology. What do we do when things are bleak? Something extra could be said for the use of mise-en-scène and colours – the film is quite symbolic. The principle enigma in this film is key to the various plots that occur within this film. It has a large affect upon the philosophical and psychological questions that occur throughout. Complex, maybe but not too much.


For a film like this the performances are very important to its success. Jake Gyllenhaal (Detective Loki) and Hugh Jackman (Keller Dover) probably the biggest in the cast, perform very well in their respective roles, and considering how important their roles are – this is fortunate. Throughout the film both characters are tested and tried and subsequently the actors test and try our fondness of them. It is ably performed, taking the audience from identifying with them to rather hard places. Great actors can pull this off and still gain an audience’s sympathy. The supporting cast give strong performances in some rather complex roles. The script is almost just testing the cast, being a good script but a tough one.


For the strengths in the performances, the film does test an audience’s patience. The film gets quite long and is subsequently hard to endure if it doesn’t grip you. Some brilliant performances are forgotten with time. Prisoners, an exploration of its characters, indulges itself a bit too much. An audience may be hard pressed to keep caring about characters that act understandably questionably at times and for such a length of time. The film also for all of its merits isn’t completely original, some plot turns are expected but not necessarily predictable.


To conclude, not the easiest of films to sit through. Quite a powerful film for those who can pay attention to it. This isn’t to imply the film belongs to art cinema, merely to its characters. Performed well but constantly testing its audience, this film isn’t for everyone. At least it tries. At least it allows for challenging characters that feel real and very very flawed.


Further Reading

Official Site

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Site

Interview with Cast

Variety Interview with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal

A look at Mise-en-scène

A look at Colours




After two children are abducted, a family and a detective attempt to deal with the problem in the best way that they can. Experienced or not, moral or immoral – it is challenging.

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