Prisoners (2013 film)

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Prisoners
Prisoners2013Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDenis Villeneuve
Produced byBroderick Johnson
Kira Davis
Andrew A. Kosove
Adam Kolbrenner
Written byAaron Guzikowski
StarringHugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano
Music byJóhann Jóhannsson
CinematographyRoger A. Deakins
Editing byJoel Cox
Gary D. Roach
StudioAlcon Entertainment
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release dates
Running time153 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$46 million[2]
Box office$122,126,687[2]
 
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Prisoners
Prisoners2013Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDenis Villeneuve
Produced byBroderick Johnson
Kira Davis
Andrew A. Kosove
Adam Kolbrenner
Written byAaron Guzikowski
StarringHugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano
Music byJóhann Jóhannsson
CinematographyRoger A. Deakins
Editing byJoel Cox
Gary D. Roach
StudioAlcon Entertainment
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release dates
Running time153 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$46 million[2]
Box office$122,126,687[2]

Prisoners is a 2013 American thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve. The film has an ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, with Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano.[3] The plot focuses on the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania and the search to find them. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

Plot[edit]

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a repairman, and his family attend a Thanksgiving dinner at the house of their neighbors, Franklin and Nancy Birch. The same afternoon, both families' young daughters, Anna Dover and Joy Birch, go missing. An ensuing police search tracks down an RV that had been parked outside the Birch house, around which the girls had been playing shortly before they disappeared. Detective David Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to confront the driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), who attempts to escape and is arrested.

Loki, expanding his search by going door to door for all sex offenders in the area, discovers a corpse in the basement of a local priest. The priest admits that he killed the man because in confession, he had claimed to be "waging a war against God", and boasted about killing sixteen children, as well as stating that he planned to kill again.

Alex Jones is meanwhile found to be developmentally disabled, having the IQ of a ten-year-old. After hours of aggressive questioning and DNA testing of the RV, the police cannot link him to the missing girls and release him. Dover, in a fit of rage, attacks Jones as he is released after he claims that Jones whispered "They didn't cry until I left them" to him. However, no one else hears these words, and Dover is frustrated with Loki's reluctance to treat the statement as evidence. Taking matters into his own hands, Dover abducts and imprisons Jones in an abandoned apartment building that he owns, torturing him for several days without obtaining any further information.

During a candlelight vigil for the girls, Loki sees a hooded man acting suspiciously. When Loki approaches the man, he runs away. Both girls' houses are broken into, apparently by the same man, whom Loki now considers a suspect. A clerk at a local store reports the man has been buying children's clothing in various sizes. This suspect, Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian), is arrested at his home, where the walls are covered in drawings of mazes. In a back room, Loki finds crates filled with maze books, live snakes, and bloodied children's clothing. The Birches and Dover positively identify some of the items of clothing as belonging to their daughters. Detained, Taylor confesses to the abduction, but before giving any more information, he seizes one of the officers' handguns and kills himself.

Dover continues to torture Jones, who says he is not Alex Jones, and that he escaped from a maze. Dover visits Jones's aunt, Holly (Melissa Leo), and brings up the topic of mazes, but Holly only says Jones does not talk much since an accident involving snakes when he was young. She tells him that she and her husband were religious until their son died of cancer at a young age.

The police conclude that Taylor was abducted as a child and had been play-acting recreations of abductions using a true-crime book that involves unsolvable mazes. The blood on the children's clothes is found to be pig's blood, and almost all of the clothing still has the original tags. While he had stolen the children's clothing linked to the girls' disappearance during his break-ins, Taylor seemingly had no involvement in the abductions.

Days later, Joy Birch is found, having escaped, but Anna is still missing. When Dover visits Joy in the hospital to ask for information, she mumbles "You were there." Dover runs off, believing he now knows where his daughter is. Loki pursues him, expecting to find Dover at his apartment house. Alone, he explores the building, where he discovers the imprisoned and tortured Jones.

Dover had actually gone to Jones' house, realizing that Joy had overheard him there. At the Jones' house, Holly invites him in and pulls a gun on him, revealing that she alone was responsible for the recent abductions. She and her husband had abducted many other children as part of their own particular "war on God" for letting their young son Alex die of cancer. The man now known as Alex was the first child they abducted, followed later by Bob Taylor, and they were probably the only two whom they did not murder. Holly shoots Dover in the leg and imprisons him in a pit under an old car in her yard. There, he finds a whistle that belonged to his daughter.

Loki goes to Holly's house to tell her that Jones has been found. There is no answer at the door but he hears someone inside and enters. He sees a photograph of Holly's husband wearing the same maze pendant found on the body in the priest's basement. Loki draws his weapon and searches the house, finding Holly bent over Anna's body on the floor of a back room, injecting something into her arm. Loki approaches her from behind and orders her to stand. She spins and shoots, wounding him, as he returns fire and kills her. Loki rushes Anna to the hospital, where she soon recovers and is reunited with her mother. Loki informs her that Keller will go to prison for the kidnapping and torture of Jones. Jones is simultaneously reunited with his real mother after twenty-six years of separation, making headline news.

Outside Holly's house, a police team stops digging for the night. They tell Loki their work will take weeks because the ground is frozen and leave. Alone, Loki hears a faint whistle sound and listening carefully hears it a few more times, puzzled and hesitating, slowly turning in its direction toward a car a few yards from the house as the screen cuts to black.

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

The film premiered at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival and was released theatrically in Canada and the United States on September 20, 2013. It was originally rated NC-17 by the MPAA for substantial disturbing violent content and explicit images, but after being edited, it was re-rated to R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout.

Critical response[edit]

Prisoners received positive reviews from critics. The film currently has an 82% approval rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 219 reviews. Its consensus reads: "Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing (and disturbing) viewing."[4] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic wrote: "Ethical exploration or exploitation? In the end, I come down reservedly on the former side: the work done here by Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and especially Villeneuve is simply too powerful to ignore." Ed Gibbs of The Sun Herald wrote: "Not since Erskineville Kings, in 1999, has Hugh Jackman appeared so emotionally exposed on screen. It is an exceptional, Oscar-worthy performance." Metacritic provides a score of 74 out of 100, based on 46 reviews, indicating 'Generally favorable reviews.'[5]

Prisoners was also a second runner up for the BlackBerry People's Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, where it came behind Philomena and 12 Years a Slave. Jake Gyllenhaal was selected to receive the Best Supporting Actor of the Year Award at the 2013 Hollywood Film Festival for his performance as Detective Loki as "a truly compelling, subtly layered portrayal of a man tasked with the impossible and driven by the demons of his own past. Jake has given a myriad of outstanding performances throughout his career. But his work in this film achieves a new level of complexity, as reflected in the rave reviews the film has received."[6]

Box office[edit]

Prisoners grossed $61,002,302 in North America and $61,124,385 in foreign countries, for a worldwide gross of $122,126,687.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PRISONERS (15)". E1 Films. British Board of Film Classification. September 13, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Prisoners (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Hugh Jackman to Star in Vigilante Thriller PRISONERS for November 2013 Release". Collider.com. March 15, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Prisoners (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Prisoners Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal to Receive Acting Honor at Hollywood Film Awards (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 

External links[edit]