It’s fun to eviscerate bad movies. You get to feel all smug and clever and use creative similes, such as ‘watching this film was like spending an hour and a half in the company of Nigel Farage’, or ‘it was like being made to eat your own balls. And then having your eyes put where your balls were’. Yeah… witty things like that.
You also get to avoid putting yourself out there for ridicule over liking a movie that everybody else has deemed fucking terrible.
TOTB liked a film once. We gleefully pronounced Dune as the next Star Wars and that Sting’s performance would blaze a trail for a prolific acting career. It wasn’t, it didn’t, and we can still hear the laughter ringing in our collective ear.
Never again we vowed, which is why it is with regret that we now come to review a film that is actually quite good.
Menly Men Being Men
The Dover’s are your typical all-American family. The sort of family where men chop wood, kill things with guns and have beards. It’s the American dream, until their young daughter Anna is abducted along with her friend, Joy Birch.
The opening scenes are punctuated by an ominous and oppressive atmosphere that are reminiscent of Scandinavian noir. The sun never shines and the elements are constantly making their presence felt – heavy rain and snow falling relentlessly on the two families consumed by grief and stomach-churning dread.
Jackman is great as the father driven to desperate measures in an attempt to find his daughter, but it is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki who is the star of the show, putting in a quietly powerful performance that ensures you can’t take your eyes off the film whenever he’s on screen.
Yet Prisoners isn’t as straight down the line as just two families trying to deal with child abduction, instead contemplating some pretty weighty moral ideas, most notably that of evil begetting evil.
Desperate to track down the two girls, Keller Dover kidnaps chief suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano, Looper) with the aim of making him reveal the girls’ location, resorting to increasingly extreme measures – but is he guilty? Parallels with the US’ policies on dealing with terrorism suspects is obvious, though the film doesn’t quite deal with the issue comprehensively once the plot picks up pace in the third act.
It’s a shame a film that, for the most part, displays an emotional and intellectual depth unlike many in its genre regresses to the mean towards the end, and the finale is arguably somewhat anti-climactic. Nevertheless, Prisoners doesn’t lose any of the intensity it so effectively builds at any stage – an impressive feat given its 153 minute running time.
So does Prisoners deserve the privilege of being the first movie that Think Outside the Box doesn’t point and laugh at like you would at a fat kid falling over? Probably not to be honest.
There are a few fantastic performances but it isn’t going to change the world, win any Oscars or even warrant a second viewing. But at least it doesn’t have fucking Sting in it.