Prisoners – review

From the twist and turns of dark, intricate mazes comes Prisoners, a gripping thriller- drama film, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The film focuses around Keller Dover, (Hugh Jackman) whose daughter disappears along with the daughter of a family friend. This spurs Dover into enlisting  of the other girl’s father (Terrence Howard) to help find them. Meanwhile, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is brought in to help recover the girls.


The film benefits from moving acting from Gyllenhaal and Jackman, the latter delivering a raw and gritty performance as a father who has to delve into murky waters in order to get his daughter to safety. It is a potently powerful performance; Jackman’s character Dover reminds us of the possible lengths we would go to for someone we love, and at what cost. Gyllenhaal excels in his role as the detective and puts in a memorable, haunting performance that will not soon be forgotten. This, coupled with a beautifully chilling and tense score from Jóhann Jóhannsson, singles out Prisoners as one to watch during the upcoming awards season.

The film is affected, in a way, by its relatively basic storyline; unfortunately if you have seen a lot of similar types of films, you may guess the ending before the film reaches its climax. This, however, does not detract from the efforts of approach to women, and the way that it depicts all Costa Ricans as possessing these values. This is one of many aggressive elements that feel uncomfortable in what appears to be a ‘Hollywood’ film, which is ultimately the movie’s tragic flaw. It is continually torn between the violence and language of an independent film, and the blockbuster power of Affleck, director Villeneuve, who creates a sense of pacing that holds certain details back, only revealing them at the very end. He succeeds in creating a film which could give itself away very easily if put in the hands of a different director, and, although somewhat predictable, it will not diminish the thrill for a vast majority of viewers.

Prisoners is a film focused around loss and the question of what people will do when faced with a crisis. The film also holds strong religious undertones that contribute to the eerie and disturbing nature of the piece. The film has enough intensity to command attention from most audiences; the acting is sublime and the script well- written, despite the fairly generic plot. Prisoners proves itself to be a substantial thriller enriched with striking messages and performances, along with a strong and engaging subject matter that will satisfy audiences with a taste for the thrilling and dramatic.


About Author

melissahaggar As the current VENUE Deputy Editor and former Film Editor, Melissa spends the majority of her free time sobbing over her mountain of MA work or indulging in cinematic outings. A self-professed lover of Gothic & Fantasy genres, Melissa naturally loves Harry Potter, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts, and classical music. She also really wants to be Jessica Jones.

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January 2022
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