Prisoners: Viewers Really Feel Like One

I have trouble understanding professional critics. In fact it seems that if the critic loves a film, then I hate it. This pattern still stands with Prisoners.

prisoners-2013-_144655-fli_1379324512Prisoners stars on an idyllic Thanksgiving Day.  Close friends and neighbors, the Dovers and Birchs meet for lunch. They each have teenage children as well as young girls, and the family is the best of friends. When the two girls slip out to head for the other girl’s home, they are abducted from their quite neighborhood. The girls had been playing on an old RV earlier in the day and this leads the police to their first suspect. It is when he is released because the police find no evidence of the girls in his RV or home that things get interesting. Mr. Dover takes matters into his own hands.

One of the biggest issues with the film is that it is not out what the trailers portray. The trailers make the movie seem like it focuses on Hugh Jackman’s character and how he deals with the loss of his little girl. Viewers are prepared for psychological pain and torment and to see a really in-depth look at how parents react in an impossible situation. But it’s not about that. It’s a cops and robbers movie. Something bad happens, the cops try to catch him, deal with a few red herrings, and ultimately catch a killer. The majority of the movie focuses on Jake Gyllenhaal’s twitchy Loki, the detective who works the case. Minimal time is given to the suffering parents and their form of justice.

Next is the fact the movie is absolutely unbelievable and overly complicated. While the movie tries to point out flaws in the justice systems, it doesn’t even get the standard procedures for finding missing children right. The search party doesn’t start until they find the RV, the parents are out searching for their children’s bodies, and the police allow a person of interest to be kidnapped because they did not provide surveillance/protection. Add a convoluted conspiracy story with religious fanatics, murdering priests and unexplained escapes, the movie doesn’t manage to do any kind of deep psychosocial exploration of anything. It’s a poorly written version of CSI on the big screen.

The best part of the entire movie is watching Jackman at work. He is a brilliant actor and plays the gambit of emotions flawlessly. He can give a gut wrenching performance with tears one minute and then fly off the handle in anger the next. His acting is organic like those of a real parent dealing with these issues.

Critics have touted Gyllenhaal’s work as well. But I find his acting over rated and overdone. He takes a character’s tic and 8f10b365f2bbd2424b_w4m6iv6hpmakes it overly apparent. I even thought he was the killer at one point and the twitching was a psychological symptom of his guilt. The film truly needed to spend more time with Jackman.

Finally, the ending is horrible. My boyfriend and I had called all the twists along the way. Nothing was a surprise. The ending itself was a “The Lady or The Tiger?” ending given to resolution to the plot’s last twist.

Not much about Prisoners is very enthralling, entertaining or deep. Viewers are left with a depressing subject manner with a shadow that never lifts.

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