Child abduction. Rubbish isn’t it? And it’s about time someone made a film about it. Preferably starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Ideally where Jackman plays a father whose child is abducted, while Gyllenhaal is the detective on the case. Hopefully called something like but not necessarily Prisoners.
This is a tense and moody thriller, whose twists and turns leave you constantly gripped despite making increasingly little sense. Or should that be decreasingly little sense? The point is, it doesn’t make any sense. But the two leads are very watchable; Jackman is both sad and scary as the enraged father whilst Gyllenhaal is intense and charismatic as Detective Loki – even though he doesn’t have a helmet with horns on or anything. It would have been nice to see Loki fleshed out further because he’s a good character; a young cop with a 100% success rate, greasy hair and countless tattoos. Maybe Gyllenhaal could reprise the role in future cases. Unless he dies in Prisoners – I’m not going to spoil it. I’m not the Guardian talking about Bridget Jones.
The problem with Prisoners is in the actions of the main characters with whom we’re meant to sympathise, and as a result, its attitudes towards torture. The film opens with Hugh Jackman taking his son hunting, where they shoot a deer – rendering this woolly vegetarian’s respect for these people somewhere between 0 and -20. Then, again avoiding spoilers, they embark upon increasingly questionable acts of vigilantism in the name of finding the abducted children. This fits in with Alex’s post about cinema’s bending of the rule of law – give an audience an emotive enough case and they’ll forgive some pretty immoral behaviour. Here, the film wants to see Jackman vindicated despite his horrendous acts, seeming to suggest that there are good torturers and bad torturers – that you can be forgiven your despicable crimes as long as your intentions were pure, which fits in with the film’s refrain of the Lord’s Prayer.
Prisoners, then, is a good film with a morally dubious centre – like Zero Dark Thirty, which had similar problems in attempting to legitimise torture. Or maybe I’m just being a woolly vegetarian.