‘Prisoners’ a puzzle of a movie that pushes buttons



By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

“Prisoners” begins when a pair of children are kidnapped from their suburban neighborhood on Thanksgiving Day.

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) has a cross hanging from the rearview mirror of his truck and he says the Lord’s Prayer just before his son shoots a deer.

He also believes in his role as protector. How many of his Christian principles will Keller sacrifice in order to regain his role as family protector?

The question is answered when Keller kidnaps Alex Jones (Paul Dano), a person of interest in the case. The police have no evidence to keep Jones, but Keller knows he’s guilty and sets about trying to get a confession.

It’s hard to watch the interrogation scenes because “Prisoners” gives Keller and the audience enough information to think Jones is guilty.

Keller’s friend (Terrence Howard) also had a child taken and reluctantly agrees to help. He’s clearly disgusted by events but hopes Keller’s methods will deliver his daughter home safely.

“Prisoners” doesn’t let anyone off easily, and that includes the audience. The plot twists and turns, as Det. Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds a new lead in the case.

Before one question gets answered, more crop up, all while two little girls remain missing and possibly dead.

Loki is a slow-burn kind of guy who is relentless in his pursuit of answers. His tattoos and a comment made to a sex offender suggest a portion of his life was spent outside the law.

I suspect there’s another movie to be made that focuses on Loki and his approach to his work and the world around him.

This movie’s topic of child kidnappings could be gut-wrenching if the viewer let it. I might have pulled back a little and tried not to get swept up in those emotions.

As a result, “Prisoners” played like a puzzle for me. A couple of times I was ahead of Det. Loki and the other characters, and other times I was behind them, which made things interesting.

Some in the audience didn’t appreciate the ending. At least that’s what I surmised from the guy who said a word unfit for a family newspaper and the general sounds of approval from others that followed.

I, on the other hand, believe the character’s actions up to that point had been so consistent that it was clear what he would do next.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

I give “Prisoners” a B.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Click video to hear audio