Sunday, 10 June 2018

Prisoners (3 Stars)

They say that a good film can never be too long, but a bad film can never be too short. After watching this film I have to ask why it lasted two and a half hours. The story could have been told in 90 minutes.

Two young girls disappear while playing together. Shortly afterwards Alex Jones is arrested, because he was seen parked close to their house. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) releases Alex after two days because he's convinced that he didn't commit the crime. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), the father of one of the girls, thinks differently. He captures Alex and keeps him tied up in an abandoned house where he tortures him to get a confession. However much he beats him Alex insists that he knows nothing about the girls.

Meanwhile Detective Loki is pursuing another suspect, Bob Taylor. Bob confesses to abducting the girls, but it's discovered that he's been creating elaborate fantasies, play-acting that he's a child killer. He buys children's clothes and covers them with pig's blood, then buries child mannequins in his garden. He might be crazy, but he's no killer.

The plot follows twists and turns, with repeated clues that lead to dead ends, just like a maze. I don't mind films that move slowly, as long as it intensifies the suspense, but in the case of "Prisoners" I was just frustrated that the plot didn't move along faster. After the first 90 minutes I was thinking to myself, "Not another hour! And the plot is still going nowhere!"

On the plus side, there's brilliant acting, especially from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhall and Terrence Howard (the father of the other girl). The problems all lie with the director Denis Villeneuve, who has already proved that he's incapable of making a short film. See "Sicario", "Arrival" and "Blade Runner 2049".

During the film Detective Loki reads a news report online about the suicide of Keller Dover's father. There's nothing wrong with this article, but take a look at the other article on the page about health care. The first paragraph begins with the words, "The high cost of health care is why the needs of the country are not met". It's an interesting article with valid criticism of the current state of health care in the USA. You can click on the picture above to enlarge the article to make it easier to read. I could write a lengthy post on this subject itself, if it weren't irrelevant to the film. All I'll do here is point out that the same text is repeated in the second and fourth columns. That's sloppy.

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