93 seconds. Perhaps this is too graphic or too much information, but I feel that telling you the length of time I spent urinating (I clocked it with my phone for the sake of accuracy) after viewing Dennis Villendeuve’s dramatic thriller, helps illustrate just how gripping this thing is. I was loaded with 20 ounces of coffee and held captive in the theater, unable to pick a moment where I might escape for bladder relief without missing something big. This is unusual as in usually if I have to exit a film there are plenty of predictable turns and or obligatory exposition fill in scenes that lend themselves to this purpose. Not with this 153 minute epic and for that I was painfully grateful.
Set in a dreary Pennsylvania winter (though shot in Atlanta), Prisoners is an ordeal of an experience. Touching on subject matter similar to Mystic River while rivaling the creepy texture and tone of Se7en, this will hit you from three directions.
One: The acting. The poster (top left) that I chose for this page lets you know that this movie is about the performances as much as anything else. Every single one of those names listed proves why they are house held. Hugh Jackman will undoubtedly be considered long and hard for a best oscar nod. A hard blinking Gyllenhaal reminds us how dependable he can be while Dano breaks out a whole new sort of eerie.
Two: The Look. The peeling walls, the warn carpet and the hand drawn doodles of a madman are just a few examples of effective tools employed by a talented art department that helps this film seep deep into our psyche.
Three: The story. Sure, a child abduction tale might not be reinventing the wheel, but it is told in such a way that it will keep you glued and or filled with pee as was the case for me. Never once heard that cynical voice in my head say: “Saw that coming”.
Prisoners is in no way a perfect film. Gyllenhaal had a few distracting and unnecessary tattoos including ink on his neck that caught my attention way too often and the overall length could have used a 15 -20 minute haircut. That said, the fact that Warner Brothers allowed Villendeuve to deliver at 2 and a half hour behemoth is a testament of their faith in his storytelling ability as well as an utter disregard for the health of my overextended bladder.
SHOULD WATCH A word to the wise, no liquids beforehand.
4 0f 5
Must Watch = 5 0f 5 (See it in the theater if possible/buy it or pay for rental.)
Should Watch = 4 of 5 (Worth a theater visit or sending away for)
Could Watch = 3 of 5 (If it’s on a pay channel or streaming for free)
Should Not Watch = 2 of 5 (Only if friends or family insist)
Do Not Watch = 1 of 5 (Don’t allow friends or family to make this mistake)