Sometimes stories feel rushed. An hour and a half, the standard movie runtime, goes by pretty quickly. To tell a longer story films either get broken into multiple movies or you have the epic Ben-Hur/Lord of the Rings movies. Prisoners falls into the second category. Problem is, at two and a half hours, the film is at least an hour too long. Not simply because the standard is 90 minutes, but because the story doesn’t need that long.
The plot is overly complicated to build the suspense, but in doing so the film drags along. The title, Prisoners, plays on several levels in the movie: the kidnapped girls, the families who want to do something but can’t, the police being bound to working within the law, etc. Because of the convoluted story the real prisoners end up being the audience.
Prisoners is well acted. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) are the main focus of the film, and both give outstanding performances. That’s not to say everyone else was slacking by any means. It’s unfortunate that such good acting is lost in being frustrated that the film drags on and on and on and on…
(One side nit-pick: Detective Loki? Really. I suppose if you’re not a fan of The Avengers this probably won’t make any difference to you, but I found it distracting every time someone said his name.)
The biggest disappointment, nay frustration, comes from the ending. I’m not ruining anything here because the movie ruins itself, Prisoners literally ends right as Loki is about to tie up the final thread in this case, finding Keller Dover. After drawing out all this time with a plot more twisted than a silly straw the filmmakers decide to unceremoniously drop the whole damned thing. What a kick in the fucking balls!
If you’re waiting in line at the DMV this is movie might be a consideration on how to kill time, but you’d probably be better served picking lice off a homeless in the bathroom.
Finally, I’d like to end with a question. Jake Gyllenhaal has a very distinct blinking in this movie. It’s very much like a Tourette’s tick. He blinks normally a few times and then has one big, squeeze blink. I don’t remember him blinking like this in previous movies which makes me think this is something he’s done for this particular character. If so, it’s impressive and fits Loki’s personality. Has he always blinked like this and I just missed it or is this something new? Leave your answer in the comment section below.