Prisoners (2013) - 8 stars out of 10
“Prisoners” is totally messed up. This shocking story of abduction, devastation, and brutal torture contains several mysteries that all tie together in the end. Its content seems like it belongs in a late-summer thriller but it works well in this Oscar-caliber drama. The script is well written, introducing important facts at all of the right times, making you think that you have it all figured out, and then keeping you (and all of the characters) guessing until the very end. I found an internal battle forming within myself as I didn’t want Paul Dano to be guilty but hoped that he was simply so that I wouldn’t feel bad about him enduring all of that torture. Dano is an underrated actor with impressive roles in “Being Flynn,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “Ruby Sparks” on his resume. It may seem like he does not do much acting as Alex Jones but playing a role that communicates through body language instead of spoken dialogue requires a refined skill. Hugh Jackman is good but sometimes it just felt like we needed a break from his overwhelming amount of anger. The supporting roles are the most impressive as Maria Bello creates some nice emotional moments when the depression overwhelms her and she becomes dependant on pills to keep her numb. Plus Terrence Howard and Viola Davis bring another dynamic to the torture scenes as they take on the “good cop” roles. The real feature in this film is Melissa Leo, nearly unrecognizable as Holly Jones who progressively reveals layers of her life throughout the film. You’ll never see the end coming although you’ll want to see the end of the torture arrive much earlier than it does. There is something twisted about “Prisons” but that might be what makes the film so dreadfully attractive.