Genre: Crime, Drama
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Music: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Kyla Drew Simmons
One more Hollywood recruiter of foreign talents, Canadian Villeneuve (from INCENDIES 2010) submits his Tinseltown debut with a dark drama about a child abduction, congregated by a swathe of bankable thespians and a virtuoso DP Roger Deakins, it was a considerable success both in box office and among critics, although its Oscar prospect will not likely pan out.
PRISONERS conventionally chronicles the appalling case with thorough stoicism to supply enormous stretches to the key performers, Jackson and Gyllenhaal are the two leading players, one is a dogged father believes in his own judgment and is pressured to take extreme measures to fish out information of his missing daughter; another is an idiosyncratic cop has to probe into a sordid scenario while his own backstory remains veiled. Through all these years Gyllenhaal has honed up his screen personality substantially and his quirky foibles (the compulsive blinking here) make him more human while Jackman is a tad over-the-top with a more straightforward character development.
Bello, as the flip side of Jackson, her post-trauma symptom is being fully destroyed, cannot function anymore, a devastating mother is a piece of cake for her; Howard and Davis pair stand for a more neutral ethnic line here, which one can relate to oneself under the context, but their shortcomings are as glaring as they are ubiquitous. Dano, who takes us aback with another ambivalent career-turn, his make-up in the torture scenes is too surreal for general viewers, theoretically we should feel sympathetic for him, but somehow he manages to diminish this feeling with his look of opaqueness, is he a real retarded victim or a lackey enjoys the gore? It is a moot point where lingers great aftertaste. We cannot leave Melissa Leo behind here since she is the hidden culprit, her reasons for killing aside, her performance does enhance the story’s credibility, and although her downfall is ordained, her encounter with Jackson in the ultimate confrontation is gold and only she can emotionally overpower and cramp Wolverine into his redemption into the darkness.
Villeneuve proves wonderfully he is a dab hand can handle challenging projects like this, the whole production team is top-notch, Deakins’ camera irradiates specifically in the car sequences near the end, alongside the cutthroat editing, a subdued iridescence can never be more ravishing and what’s more praiseworthy is that it thrusts the narrative into its ultimacy with utter urgency and dazzlement.
PRISONERS sits comfily into my top 10 year-list, PICTURE, DIRECTOR, LEADING ACTOR (2 spots), SUPPORTING ACTOR and SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for my no-gut-no-glory Oscar prediction, I sincerely hope Deakins can sneak in, alas, even so, he is no chance of winning over GRAVITY (2013).