Saw Prisoners Tonight…Such High Hopes for a Bad Time…

Sometimes you just want to go to a movie to be freaked out, upset, disgusted, disturbed.  You know?  Sure you do, you’re reading this blog.  Anyway, we went out and saw Prisoners tonight.  I was prepared, again, to be upset, disgusted and disturbed.

And here’s the thing…I was, but for all the wrong reasons.

I knew there was something wrong about 20 minutes in, when we’re treated to a strange–and for all purposes, entirely meaningless–sustained zoom in on a tree in one of the main character’s front yard.  A tree.  An ordinary tree. It lasted about 10 seconds, which is kind of an eternity when you’re watching a fucking tree.  And it meant nothing.  Completely nothing.

Before we go any further, just let me say there are gonna be SPOILERS here…I can’t discuss this movie without getting into the plot, which means SPOILERS.  Got it?  Good…here we go.

First, the acting, most of it…well Hugh Jackman, anyway…was great…terrific.  Jack Gyllenhal, though, chose to make his character so low key that he was just a collection of odd tics…a strange and offputting blinking thing, tatoos, a slicked-back hairstyle and a stupid name…Loki…yes, Loki.

Second, the movie is long…loooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg…like 2 1/2 hours long.  As Deb said, “I didn’t think the title Prisoners meant us.”  LONG.  And it didn’t need to be.  There was at least one sub-plot that was so red herringish…and so red herringish no one I knew even fell for it…that it could easily have saved the movie 30 minutes had it been forgotten.

Third, the movie, I thought, at least, was supposed to be an examination of how far a person would go in the situation where their child is abducted.  Yet, 9/10s of the way into this very long movie, it veers from this path into something quite different.  And we never really return to that question or its consequences.

And do you know why?  Because the movie ends with NO RESOLUTION.  Now, I understand that some people like that kind of ambiguity in a book or a movie.  NOT ME.  I didn’t just pay $10.75 to have the director say, “….And cut!  Now it’s your turn.  You decide what happens next.”  I call bullshit on that.  Regardless of whether it’s true or not, I always take that kind of ending as the director or writer saying, “Yeah, I got nothing.  No idea of how to end this.”  Or worse yet, the director/writer is saying, I don’t have the balls to take this story to its conclusion, so you, the reader/audience, you just take it from here…thanks.”

Or even worse, “Yeah, that’s the end, because, well…fuck you.”

If you have sucked me into a 2.5 hour movie and have made me invest my motherfucking feelings in this shit…YOU’D BETTER WRITE ME A GODDAMN ENDING.

Ahem…sorry…but it got worse.  Well, it got worse when my girlfriend and our friends stood around afterward dissecting the movie and watching as we pulled a tiny thread or two, and the entire movie fell apart like a cheap suit.

So, here are the spoilers that had us rolling our eyes.  SPOILERS.  So, at the end Hugh Jackman confronts the crazy aunt.  (You’ll understand if you decide, at some point in your life, to devote 2.5 hours to this movie).  He brings his tool belt and assorted crap in an effort to get her to let him into the house.  She does, and he is immediately drugged, shot and then pushed into a hole underneath a board underneath an old Camaro.

Two minutes later, Jake Gyllenhal arrives, gunplay ensues, aunt is shot but drugs kidnapped girl first…oh, and she also shoots Gyllenhal.  Does he call for an ambulance?  Nope, he leaps into his car with the dying girl, obviously in shock and bleeding like a…well…like a pig.  Stupid.

Want stupider?  Remember, Hugh?  Back in the hole? Well, sometime later, Jake returns to the aunt’s house where the forensics team is digging an apparently random hole.  Right there, in the foreground, is the apparently untouched Camaro, sitting atop a board that’s covering the hole where Hugh is.

No one saw the toolbelt in the kitchen?  No one spotted Hugh’s truck on the property? No one thought to impound the Camaro and search it? That’s some good detective work there, Lou.

In the end, a bleak and bloodless movie with too many gigantic plot holes (and for that matter, lots of actual holes…and as Deb said, a helluva lot of Thanksgiving pie) and a running time that seemed to measured in geologic eras. Not recommended.  At all.  Now to bed!


About John F.D. Taff

John F.D. Taff is a writer, published author, raconteur and wrangler of angry stoats. He has more than 80 short stories and 7 novels published. He lives in the great, unspoiled vastness of the Midwest. He has a tremendous wife named Debbie, three pugs, Sadie, Tovah and Muriel, and three great kids--Harry, Sam and Molly. View all posts by John F.D. Taff

2 responses to “Saw Prisoners Tonight…Such High Hopes for a Bad Time…

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