2013, Movies

Prisoners (2013, Denis Villeneuve)

This is a mostly excellent kidnapping thriller driven by two absolutely excellent performances and an all-around great supporting cast. The film is so close to being amazing that I was actually quite disappointed that it wasn’t.

The issue is that, like any good horror film, this film would have been better with less information in the reveal. Sure, the poetic justice of what happens to one of the characters is cute, but it, and the whole rest of the ending surrounding it, is just too neat, too tidy for the excellent, tense, moving and just utterly compelling film that exists before we are told just what exactly is happening. And though the filmmakers spent a lot of time dropping hints so that we could indeed guess the twist – something I appreciate as I hate it when it’s the opposite – it would have been so much cooler if


the seeming red herrings had in fact been red herrings and not clues to an elaborate puzzle. I think the film would have been among the best of the year had the alternate approach been taking, however I realize that it likely would not have been made, as twists are big business.

That being said, this is still a pretty great movie, and beyond being disappointed by the reveal – which, given the quality of the mystery, was probably going to happen regardless – everything else about the film is absolutely excellent and I still highly recommend it.


  • Directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Produced by Broderick Johnson, Kira Davis, Andrew A. Kosove, Adam Kolbrenner
  • Written by Aaron Guzikowski
  • Starring
    • Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover
    • Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki
    • Viola Davis as Nancy Birch
    • Maria Bello as Grace Dover
    • Terrence Howard as Franklin Birch
    • Melissa Leo as Holly Jones
    • Paul Dano as Alex Jones
    • Dennis Christopher as Mr. Jones
    • Dylan Minnette as Ralph Dover
    • Zoë Soul as Eliza Birch
    • Erin Gerasimovich as Anna Dover
    • Kyla-Drew Simmons as Joy Birch
    • Wayne Duvall as Captain Richard O’Malley
    • Len Cariou as Father Patrick Dunn
    • David Dastmalchian as Bob Taylor
    • Jeff Pope as Elliot Milland
  • Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • Cinematography by Roger Deakins
  • Edited by Joel Cox, Gary D. Roach
  • Production companies: Alcon Entertainment, 8:38 Productions, Madhouse Entertainment
  • Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Entertainment One
  • Release date: August 30, 2013
  • Running time: 153 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Budget: $46 million
  • Box office: $122.1 million

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