Prisoners

 

Alcon Entertainment / Warner Bros

 

Rating: R

 

Reason for the Rating: Disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout .

 

Plot Summary: Keller Dover is prepared for anything, until his daughter and her friend go missing.

 

PopFam Recommends: An intense, sometimes disturbing movie that is not for children or the faint of heart

 

Prisoners is as intense a movie as it gets. Not because of all the battle scenes, explosions, or fight sequences. It doesn't really contain any of those elements. Prisoners isn't about action, it's about human nature, asking the questions "What would you do? How far is too far?"

 

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a survivalist. His basement is stockpiled with everything he'll need "just in case." He's prepared for anything that could happen, and feels confident that he can protect his family in any kind of an emergency. That is, until Thanksgiving Day, when his daughter, Anna (Erin Gerasimovich), and her friend turn up missing. Searching the house and neighborhood turn up nothing, until someone remembers seeing an old RV down the street. Hours later the RV is located, and the driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), tries, unsuccessfully, to kill himself. A statement of guilt?

 

Alex is taken to the police station and questioned by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), where it is discovered that Alex has the mental capacity of a 10-year old. He doesn't understand what's happening and insists he has never seen Anna or her friend. Keller cannot accept that this young man knows nothing. Confident that Alex knows where the girls are, or was involved in some way, Keller decides to take matters into his own hands to discover the truth. What would you do, if you felt the police weren't doing enough?

 

You know with a 2 1/2 hour movie the answer isn't going to be as simple as all that. There are multiple leads for the police to follow, which all seem to dead end into nothing. Kind of like the maze symbol that appears repeatedly in the movie. Keller gets one piece of the puzzle, while Det. Loki gets another, but none of them seem to make sense or go anywhere. How will they put the pieces together to figure it out? If either one of them had information the other had, it would have been a much shorter movie. I figured it out about halfway through, and I'm not all that smart.

 

I would love to say I loved this movie, especially with all the star power this movie contains. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are joined by Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Melissa Leo, and the acting is amazing. Which is one of the reasons the movie is so intense. The acting is believable and heartfelt. I would not be surprised if there are Oscar nominations for acting and cinematography from this movie. But the story is so disturbing on several levels. Kidnapping of children (every parent's nightmare), torture, evil people who only mean to do harm. Yes, movies are full of these themes, but Prisoners takes the "every man," the guy next door, and allows him to take disturbing measures which may or may not be warranted. Maybe the question of the movie shouldn't be, "How far would you go?" but rather "Is a 'good' person justified in doing horrible things, if he feels the reason behind it is warranted?" or "How does a person live with himself after doing something so heinous to another?"

 

Despite the difficult content, this movie will most certainly generate discussion. It's not a movie that allows the viewer to stay silent, and will most certainly captivate your thoughts in the hours to follow.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• How did you feel about Keller's decisions and actions? Were they justified? What would you have done in his situation?

 

• Why do you think Alex didn't give Keller information about the girls?

 

• Keller is portrayed as a religious man, often repeating the Lord's Prayer, and icons of the cross and fish are shown around him throughout the movie. In what ways do you think his beliefs influence his decisions, or did they? Explain.

 

--JW

 

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