BY ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI
Talk about a movie with buzz! Its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival had people talking about this flick for weeks prior to its release–and you can see why. The emotional thriller was receiving comments like “Oscar worthy”, which of course makes everyone’s ears perk up and rush to the box office, myself included. I’d had my eye on this movie ever since I saw the trailer pre-TIFF (what can I say? I’m a total sucker for Jake Gyllenhaal), so when the reviews started pouring in, I knew I had to go see it opening weekend.
To be brutally honest, it was (to my dismay) not as great as I’d expected. It certainly had its high points, but there were several issues with the plot, characters and the over two and a half hour runtime. By all accounts of the word, it was thrilling. The last 45 minutes of the movie I think I exhaled twice. However, the first portion of the flick, I was sitting there wondering when it was going to pick up and who on earth really thought this deserved an Oscar nod.
Prisoners tells the story of the investigation of two missing girls, headed by Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) and Keller Dover, the religious, gruff, recovering alcoholic, wacko father to one of the girls (Hugh Jackman). The only clue to their disappearance is a rickety old RV that just screams pedophile, driven by a not-all-there twenty-something man named Alex. After Loki establishes that Alex couldn’t have successfully taken the girls, Dover takes matters into his own hands by kidnapping and trying some tough love on Alex until he cracks.
Plot-wise, that’s all I’m going to give you. There are a lot of twists and turns and up until the last 10 minutes, you’re still guessing who took the girls and where they could possibly be (for the record, I totally didn’t see it coming, and I’m usually pretty good at calling it at the beginning of the movie) and I really don’t want to ruin that for anyone. My issue isn’t with the twist; the twist was awesome and well thought out. It was the first half of the movie where you see very little action, outside of Dover beating the shit out of Alex and being a veritable crazy person, even though Alex barely utters a peep. The other problem? Some questions were left unanswered. Maybe it was just me dwelling on the whodunit aspect that I missed something, but considering the length of the movie, some backstory would have been nice. This movie could have easily been chopped down to two hours (even ringing in under the two and a half hour mark would have been better), incorporating an extra person of interest that was unnecessary, though certainly interesting.
I won’t tell you not to go see this. It was a decent movie and like I said, the last half was gripping and makes it worth going through the maze of the plot.