There aren’t many movies I’m willing to sit through that sport a runtime of over two and a half hours. That is, unless it’s a specific installment of a series I’ve invested time into, or one of those classics such as “Apocalypse Now” or “The Godfather” that never loses its allure. But every now and then there are those few instances where they achieve a worthy reputation despite their drawn out plots and often anticlimactic conclusions.
“Prisoners,” directed by Denis Villenueve (“Polytechnique,” “Incendies“), certainly doesn’t minimize the runtime of the feature but succeeds in forging a protracted effect that keeps the audience captivated with erratic revelations and intense acting. Revolving around a man named Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) whose daughter goes missing along with her friend and his attempts in discovering exactly where she went and who’s to blame, the impression it leaves is that of a rubber band being stretched beyond imaginable anticipation of the snap. Pushed to the limits of confidence and cooperation, Keller defies the advice of seemingly uninterested Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) and pursues discovery in a case that unravels to be, literally, a twisted chain-link that entirely envelops the main characters. Sure, it takes a few minutes to get the ball rolling, but the ultimate momentum gained from such electrifying exploration transcends the fallout of the original pacing. Jackman delivers one of the most emotionally explosive performances of his career, which is the absolute focal point of the gut-punching, shock-absorbing environmental chaos displayed on the screen.
“Prisoners” helps you consider the forlorn experiences of desperation and dwindling hope, partially due to the lengthy nature of the film, but also because of the inescapable confinements of the movie’s centralized theme. Hooked from the beginning’s atmospheric gloominess, the viewer is thrown head first into a whirlwind experience that has them searching for themselves among multiple dead-ends and cleverly rigged corridors in order to make sense out of the ostensibly relentless confusion. Loaded with moments balancing skepticism with understanding and others that rationalize pure despair, this movie is the branch that snags your sweater during the getaway, using your vulnerable anxiety to inflict detrimental tears on a once impregnable dam of protection. It questions the boundary lying casually between determination and madness and, eventually, the consequences of crossing that line in order to uncover the truth. Because the motivations for such disclosure warp into morally loose ambitions, the resulting aftermath is detrimental to the future.
Basically, if all you want is a quick thrill or a giggle fest, you might as well stay home for the weekend and watch Netflix; it’s not that bad of an option and you can float around your house aimlessly, emotionally ordained in whatever you want. But, if you’re actually looking to experience an uninterrupted thrill ride of movie that requires even more time than the exposure to be fully satisfied, go see “Prisoners.” I saw it a week ago and not only am I still trying to rub the whiteness from my knuckles but I don’t think I’ll ever to get completely over the ending. Just a simple word of advice, don’t get the largest soda the theater has unless you want a serious risk of a bladder infection because there isn’t a second of the movie you want to miss.