Movie Discussion: Prisoners
Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for Prisoners.
When Keller Dover's daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello
Release Year: 2013
Evie Totty | November 6, 2013
I hear it's a fantastic movie, but as a parent I just could not bring myself to watch it - even if it has Hugh in it...
Erik Bates | January 22, 2014
The trailer gives away surprisingly less than you think. I thought the same thing after seeing the trailer the other day, and then I saw the movie... it's full of surprises.
Evie Totty | January 22, 2014
Scott Hardie | January 22, 2014
Awesome. I want to see this even more now.
Scott Hardie | August 7, 2015
It took a while, but I finally caught up with this, and you're right, Erik. There were a lot more twists than I expected, most of them pretty good.
Overall it was an excellent movie. The only substantial complaint that I have is the way that Paul Dano's brain-damaged weirdo only said things that the plot needed him to say, when the plot needed him to say them. I found it frustrating that he spent most of the movie silent, only to blab all kinds of information to Hugh Jackson at moments when the story needed a new angle, and it was information that he could have shared at any time with no reason to hold it back. (This happened three times, in the police parking lot, the sidewalk while dog-walking, and in the makeshift shower.) Bad screenwriting, I say, but hardly a major problem.
The big question after seeing the movie, I think, is whether it approves of disapproves of Hugh Jackson's torturing of Paul Dano for information. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky thinks it condoned the torture, but I disagree. For one thing, nearly every scene between them portrays Jackman like a lunatic and Dano like a lamb. The movie tries to make us feel queasy about what Jackman is doing, with reaction shots like Terence Howard looking ready to throw up, so I think the movie considers the torture wrong. Plus, Jackman wasn't allowed to get away with it; his crimes were discovered and he's likely to be prosecuted for them, as well as his conspirators. Furthermore, what scant information that Jackman gets from Dano is not really helpful at all -- Jackman does solve the case before Jack Gyllenhaal, but not thanks to any answers from Dano. So, I think the torture is not an integral part of the mystery -- instead, I think it's a part of what the movie is really about, a question of how far goodness can be corrupted. Vishnevetsky is right that the movie's concept of morality as an internal struggle within each of us is somewhat undone by having the villain eventually turn out to be external rather than Jackman's corrupt soul, but even the villain is a good woman corrupted. What do you think about the movie's morality?
Scott Hardie | August 9, 2015
I made two mistakes with the previous comment. First, my bad html link cut off the last paragraph, which is now fixed. Second, I forgot that Dano's "maze" comment leads Jackman to Melissa Leo which eventually leads to his solving the case, which means that the torture did eventually produce results. I still find it implausible and frustrating that Dano would only divulge the maze comment at the exact right time and in the exact right phrasing that leads to Jackman going to Leo. We're supposed to care about Dano's suffering as a person, but the movie uses him like a plot device.
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Scott Hardie | September 3, 2013
Careful with that trailer. It gives away a lot, or seems to. :-(