In one of 2013’s best films, Hugh Jackman turns in an intense performance as a desperate father looking to find his missing daughter. Jake Gyllenhaal as the detective leading the investigation holds his own alongside his co-star’s ferocious performance.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 33 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 12/17/2013
A child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States. In instances of kidnapping, the perpetrators are usually a member or acquaintance of the family, with kidnapping by strangers happening about half as often. In either case, the scenario is every loving parents’ worst nightmare, and it’s in this crucible of maddening distress and fear that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve shapes his intense psychological drama.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Hugh Jackman plays carpenter and outdoorsman Keller Dover, whose daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and Anna’s friend Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) go missing on Thanksgiving Day. While Anna’s mother Grace (Maria Bello) and Joy’s parents Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terence Howard and Viola Davis) quietly grieve and hope for the best, Keller begins to lose patience. The investigation led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) had a suspect in custody, the driver of a dingy RV seen parked in the neighborhood, but Alex Jones (Paul Dano) proves to have an I.Q. of a ten-year old, making him mentally incompetent of the crime. The additional lack of physical evidence forces the police to eventually release him, which in turn sets off Keller, who decides to take matters into his own hands.
Kidnapping Alex and confining him to an abandoned apartment building, Keller, with the reluctant assistance of Franklin, begins beating and torturing Alex to get him to reveal the girls’ whereabouts. Though Alex offers no information in the face of Keller’s ferocious interrogation, Keller remains convinced he’s involved somehow, even when Det. Loki identifies another person of interest, a strange man seen lingering a little too long at a candlelight vigil for the kidnap victims. Pursuing that lead yields some additional clues, but their cryptic nature and the steadily mounting days since the girls’ disappearance offer little hope. Keller also must face the consequences of his desperate actions, though that reckoning may come in a way few would have expected.
Though Jackman’s intense portrayal of a man caught up in his own grief and rage dominates the story, and makes the viewer anticipate a conclusion doused with tragic irony, Prisoners proves much less predictable than that, sneaking in an effective crime thriller while we’re mesmerized by Jackman’s noteworthy performance. As the representative of this other dimension of the story, Gyllenhaal turns in an equally compelling performance as we see investigative shortcomings and a dearth of clues steadily wear down his character as the detective. Having two such strong dimensions to the story has its consequences, namely a somewhat long runtime, though things feel, for the most part, well balanced. A top notch supporting cast from Bello to Dano further enhance the film’s believability, making it worthy of anyone’s best of 2013 list. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, be sure to give it at least a rental.
Framed at 1.78:1 (a slight modification from its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer features strong, inky blacks and excellent shadow detail. The color palette is firmly entrenched in the drab tones of winter, but hues are effectively saturated and flesh tones look true to life. Detail is excellent, with no signs of excessive digital enhancements.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Dialogue in the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, detailed and intelligible. Environmental and directional effects are subtle, but provide a balanced surround field as the story draws you in. LFE is minimal, if present at all, but the track exhibits adequate depth and dynamic range.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Special Features Rating: 2/5
- Every Moment Matters (3:05): An electronic press kit synopsis of the story and major themes.
- Powerful Performances (9:24, HD): The cast discuss their characters, preparation, and share impressions of each other’s work.
- Pre-Menu Trailers: UltraViolet (1:22, HD), Gravity (2:26, HD), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2:11, HD), Her (2:34, HD),
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet: Redeem by December 17, 2015.
Warner Home Video delivers a fine high definition presentation for its intense psychological drama Prisoners. The special features are on the meager side, but the engrossing quality of the feature makes the title worthy of consideration at least as a rental. Given an inevitable post-release date price drop, I would even recommend it as a blind buy.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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