Prisoners - Blu-ray Review

'as straight a detective story as you could hope to find: children are missing; Detective must find them'

Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve's previous film, Incendies, has a solution to it that is at once fiendishly complex, emotionally fraught, surprising and devastating. Prisoners has no such thing and perhaps that is the main reason why I did not think it as good as some have, though having waited one-hundred and fifty-three minutes for the conclusion, I think I could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that it might be more important and significant than it turned out to be.

Certainly there are promising signs throughout that Villeneuve is leading us towards another Incendies-esque twister. The obsession with family is here still, present from Aaron Guzikowski's script and tangibly full of dread, as fathers Keller (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin (Terrence Howard) search for their missing-presumed-abducted children. The mothers (Viola Davis and Maria Bello) aren't marginalised or paid lip service to: Bello retreats to near-hysteria, whilst Davis eventually shares somewhat in the sins of the fathers.

Perhaps the main problem with Prisoners is that Villeneuve treats the film as though it has a similar level of depth to Incendies where in fact this emerges as a much simpler affair, which could and perhaps should have been dealt with more succinctly. There are the questionable morals of, in particular, Keller, but beyond that this is as straight a detective story as you could hope to find: children are missing; Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) must find them.

What depth is here is actually not found in the lost and eventually quite uninteresting Keller. Instead it is Gyllenhaal, as a bemusing tattooed, blinking, detective, who seems to come from the old school but occupy the new. Villeneuve is working with the actor again on Enemy, which looks promising and paranoid in attractive measure and on this evidence, theirs is a working relationship that may well bear significant fruit. Loki - an odd name in the times of Marvel - comes with an unpainted yet fascinating background, and if the film does have something interesting to say on the usefulness or otherwise of violence then it is in Loki's occasional outbursts and their consequences. His characterisation looks like a fascinating attempt by the director to play with typical genre norms.

Meanwhile though, Prisoners continues to dip into fairly predictable and stock Cop Thriller territory. There's Christian symbolism all over the place, though Villeneuve seems uninterested in it (it's just something you have to have in this sort of thing) and Loki is eventually drawn into an internal argument over how to pursue the case. Villeneuve's film occasionally looks incredible (wide shots and anything at night is impressive) but it rarely gets out of a quite sleepy gear and its got nothing spectacular under its hood.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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