I really don’t like donning into the subject of child kidnapping. For me, this act is almost as bad as killing another human being without rhyme or reason. But you can’t blame me; this horrid act is something that no one wants to discuss or even think about. The idea that one of our own could be taken away, and they find themselves trapped, wondering when help will come. It causes heartbreak and changes the world for the child forever. Gone is their innocence. Gone is their trust in fellow man. Gone is their happiness. Gone is a part of them that was taken along with their bodies.
Even as a kid, I had some nightmares of waking up in my bed only to see a shadowy man standing over the side. He’d tell me that if I screamed he’d kill me. I manage to wake up before it goes any farther, but it would remain branded in my sight for many sleepless nights. I think a lot o that fear came from the fear that my middle school hallmarked about finding those that have been taken. I may have held on to a missing person’s flyer and worried for their safety, but I still had horrid thoughts on seeing myself on the other side of the paper. Today’s subject matter leads us into the dark crime story of Prisoners.
It all begins on a cold and dreary Thanksgiving where Keller Dover (played by Hugh Jackman) is taking his family over to the Birch family. Things go well as the Dovers are having fun with Franklin Birch (played by Terrence Howard) as he’s playing some music. But time goes by when Keller realizes that no one has seen his young daughter Anna or the Birch’s daughter Eliza for a while. A search around the neighborhood come empty until Keller’s son claims that they were playing on a parked RV earlier.
Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case and responds to what turns out to be the same RV as described before. They arrest it’s driver, Alex Jones (played by Paul Dano) and he’s confronted with a night full of questions. All they manage to find is that he’s mentally challenged, and releases him two days later. Keller is convinced that the guy is faking or possibly working with someone else. So after a quick prayer, he captures Alex and tries to make him talk through torture. Meanwhile, Loki starts searching more into other leads, and may have stumbled onto a larger history of local kidnappings in the last twenty years.
The first thing I want to tell is that when I walked out of the theater, I kept asking myself many questions about what constitutes harming someone else and whether going as far as Keller takes it to getting any information out of Alex was right. I love movies that force me to question ethics, as they rarely do. Even if you don’t agree with what these people are doing, you understand their motivations as they show each persons decent into the darkness.
Now as mysteries go, it was actually better then I thought it was going to be. They allow many twists and turns to block detective Loki’s search, and each time he found a dead end, I was groaning as much as he was. This is the kind of movie the seems to drive on fueling your saddest emotions. Prisoners allows some time with the girls in the beginning creating some likable, happy kids, only to feel the horror when they are taken away. Were just as angry as Hugh Jackman is, but were also as curious as Jake Gyllenhaal is.
The movie does lend a couple of clues for the audience to solve, though maybe a little too easily. Without spoiling it, let’s just say that something is revealed early on so that when everything is unspun; it’s not that much of a shock. It’s trying to do what The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is. All I wished was that something could have changed that allowed the other side to have the advantage. They know that the good guys are coming and they only seem prepared to fight rather then leave.
I’ll give this four and a half unfinished mazes out of five. I will say that Prisoners is a very unpleasant film to watch. It matches the definition of dark and disturbing. This is like an episode of Law and Order on steroids. If your ready to face such a sad story and go into the deepest of black holes, then you may find something that’s more interesting then you have already thought to yourself.