Prisoners (Blu-ray)

December 16, 2013 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s hard to make it in Hollywood. I’ve had friends try and fail.  They make it look easy, those that “make it.” It’s not.  But every once in a while an actor comes around that is just…so truly talented that it must sicken other actors out there.  I’m referring to, of course, Hugh Jackman. Now I won’t say this guy is Lawrence Oliver or Anthony Hopkins, but you have to admit that the guy has range. Just last week I received two movies with Jackman as the star: The Wolverine and Prisoners. In one he plays a mutant with razor sharp claws and the other a grief-stricken father whose daughter has been kidnapped. And he plays them both with equal effectiveness. Jackman is a man of many talents, too. He’s hosted the Oscars (and done a fine job), he’s been nominated for an Academy Award (one of the few standouts in Les Miserables) and isn’t afraid to take risks with his roles – Real Steel, anyone? Oh, and according to the ladies, he’s not exactly hard on the eyes.

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a working class father. In the opening scene, he’s teaching his son how to hunt. He’s a survivalist.  So when his daughter, Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and her friend, Eliza (Zoe Borde), go missing – it hits home in the most literal sense of the word. Franklin (Terrance Howard), Eliza’s father and Keller initially cooperate with the police investigation, let by Det. Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). However Keller takes a clue a bit too far and takes justice into his own hands. He kidnaps and tortures who he suspects is the criminal, Alex (Paul Dano), leaving him chained up in an abandoned building.  As the investigation continues, it seems that little progress is being made and it’s starting to take its toll on both Keller and Franklin. Will this rouge justice be rewarded or will it be the ultimate downfall for Keller?

I’ll come right out and say that Prisoners isn’t an easy movie to watch, not by any means. Not only does the movie move at a very meticulous pace (running time is just a shade over 150 minutes), but the subject matter isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy.  I don’t think I could imagine what it’d be like if a loved one, especially a son or daughter, were to be taken from me right under my nose, but I don’t think that anyone in the world would want to experience what these characters go through. Director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski have crafted a very taught and tense thriller. Jackman and Gyllenhaal have brought out some of their best performances, with Jackman’s character emanating more rage than Wolverine and Gyllenhaal as a somewhat “out there” detective with some strange facial tick.  I do question the repeat view ability of this movie, it’s not something I’d want to sit down and watch once or twice a year, but if you’re looking for a well-crafted thriller with some great performances – then this is your movie.

Video: How’s it look?

If there’s a speck of blue sky to be found in this movie then I surely missed it. Set in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, Prisoners is about as dull and drab as they come when it comes to color.  The trees are barren, the streets black, the clothes are sad and mundane…it’s just a “depressing” look and feel to a film.  Granted Warner’s 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks the part, detail is stellar and black levels and contrast play well off one another, but it’s like when you look outside and it’s a cloudy day – it just seems to affect your mood. I’m sure this was all intentional, of course, the sun does shine in Pennsylvania – I’ve seen it.  If you’re looking for warm and vibrant hues then you’ll need to look somewhere else.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is strong, powerful yet painfully reserved as well.  This is a dialogue-driven film if there ever was one and though there are some times that the sparkers get to stretch their proverbial legs, they’re few and far between. Jackman’s grizzled, rough voice sounds great as he tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Surrounds are present, though not overdone in a few scenes.  This is more along the lines of a deliberate tone and pace when it comes to sound. It’s understated, but strikingly powerful at times, too.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately we don’t get much in the supplemental department, only two short EPK’s are included:

  • Every Moment Matters – This is essentially a glorified trailer with some snippets from the film.
  • Powerful Performances – A longer (9 minutes) look with some interviews with the cast and crew as to why they were attracted to the film and so forth.
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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