When I was watching Prisoners the other day, the fact that the Academy Awards season is soon to be upon us wasn’t lost on me, as this is the time of the year when many a film start contending for the top awards. The big four being best director, best actor, best actress, and of course best film, and these films start hitting the big screen in droves around this time so as to be fresh in the judges minds when the nominations start being sent out.
For non film types, you might think the Academy Awards is something that only happens on the actual night, but in reality films are purposefully released around the end of year to give them as much chance as possible at pleasing the judges, and that’s not even half the story, as behind the scenes a lot of money is spent, and backs scratched, to give them an even better chance.
So why were these thoughts so strong in my mind you might ask, well, not to put the film down, but this felt like a clear and purposefully constructed movie to try and win awards, especially for the actors. Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano, all put in award potential performances, though Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Maria Bello, didn’t get enough quality screen time in my mind to be considered, and Melissa Leo’s performance was a little too on the nose to be nominated either.
Now, you might also think this is a little bit of overanalysing on my part, and you may be right, but that’s just how I saw it, and maybe if the film was better than it was, I wouldn’t even be thinking these things, but sadly the film just wasn’t as good as it tried so hard to be. For a thriller such as this, you want to be kept left guessing right up till the end, but I figured this film out half way through, which is never a good sign when a film telegraphs so clearly.
Also, if you don’t want to know any spoilers, don’t read the rest of this paragraph, but I feel I need to make this next point. That point being, any good storyteller should know that you never let your hero be saved in the end, as the hero, or heroine, should always save themselves. In this movie, Hugh Jackman, despite some of the nasty things he did, was the hero hunting for his daughter, but in the end not only did Jake Gyllenhaal’s character save the girl, but he even saved Jackman. That to me is weak writing.
This all might sound like I didn’t like the film, which isn’t the case, as I did like it, but I just felt it fell down in lots of places and tried so hard to be smarter and better than it was. So much so, I see this as the poor man’s Zodiac, which is a far superior thriller, and funnily enough also stars Jake Gyllenhaal. So check this film out if you like thrillers, but know that there are better films out there, but I still won’t be surprised if this film picks up a few nominations this award season.
7 out of 10 from me!!!