Prisoners is a brilliant piece of filmmaking

One of the great things about on demand and cable is finding the movies you wanted to see and forgot about. Then your like... “Oh right, that one." That is part of the point of this website. Prisoners  was one of those films for me. Don’t remember it? Staring (Hugh Jackman), (Jake Gyllenhaal), (Terrance Howard), (Viola Davis),(Mario Bello) and a very creepy (Paul Dano), Prisoners tells the story of two working class families from Pennsylvania who are close.(Jackman) and (Bello) are husband and wife Keller and Grace Dover, and (Howard) and (Davis) are Franklin and Nancy Birch.

After a Thanksgiving dinner at the Birch’s house, their two young daughters go out to play in the yard and then disappear. Earlier in the day, when the two girls were playing while being watched by the Dover’s older son Ralph (Dylan Minette), and the Birch’s older Daughter  Eliza (Zoë Soul), they all had noticed a beat up Winnebago parked suspiciously on the street. After the girls go missing, they tell their parents about the vehicle. They report it to the police and the Winnebago is spotted in a parking lot idling, with a rather strange man  Alex Jones (Dano), in it who tries to crash it into the nearby woods when the police approach, led by the solemn detective Loki (Gyllenhaal). Jones is a prime suspect in the case who is an almost middle aged man and appears to fit the profile of a child molester. Consisting of a childlike manner, Jones, who lives with his aunt Holly (Melissa Leo), is never the less grilled by Loki at the police station, convinced from years of experience, that this strange man is responsible for the girls disappearance. After investigators find no sings of struggle in the Winnebago and Loki has got nothing from Alex, he is forced to release him. The news of this gets back to the grieving families and enrages Keller. He confronts Loki at the Police station and implores him to keep Jones, as he knows in his gut that he is guilty. Knowing the statistics for survival of victims over a longer period of missing time, Keller decides to take justice into his own hand; at first, with just the reluctant help of Franklin, and later Nancy.

First off, the look at this film by the brilliant (Roger Deakins), really captures the foreboding mood of it’s subject matter. It rains or snows a lot  and the colors are all washed out. The music also enhances its narrative, with a sense of dread in it’s somber theme. This is a sad and mournful story about the depths one would go to, under severe stress to exact out vengeance and it is an expertly crafted film, with a very powerful performance by Jackman, who looks like every vein in his head will start spouting blood at any minute. He really goes all out and you understand his mission, but over time, as with others in this movie, question his methods.

(Gyllenhaal) is actor who has escaped me at times, but he is very good I must say, as the brooding Loki with his interesting tick, and single-mindedness approach he has to catch the culprit. He is certain he will get him.(Gyllenhaal) hits it dead on for this role. I have always like (Terrance Howard) and he is good as the  father who is horrified by what his friend asks him to do for justice.(Bello) is always solid, and she is heartbreaking in her portrayal of a mother who is shattered.(Davis) is just plain wonderful with her expressive face and she has some crucial scenes later in the film. Poor Paul Dano has made a living portraying truly creepy men, but he is great as the childlike Jones, and (Melissa Leo) is another plus as the aunt who cares for him.

Obviously, a film like this relies on some big surprises, and to say too much more would ruin the experience of this film. There are points to made about the paying forward of abuse and punishing some who have already been punished and damned. The effect is acted upon, while the cause is forgotten. This is heavy stuff. Suffice it to say that this is a film that made it on to many critic’s best of 2013 list and I understand why. If you missed it like I did, see Prisoners. This is an excellent film.

Watch the trailer: