Guest / Limited Access /
'Prisoners' and 'Rush': The Good, The Bad, and The Evil
Jaap Buitendijk / Universal Pictures

Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners begins with a foreboding prologue in which we heard the Lord's Prayer as suburban dad Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) helps his teenage son track and shoot a deer from a distance. Photographed with quiet, slow zooms and a wintry ambience (cinematographer Roger Deakins has never been better), this cryptic scene sets the tone for the tense, contemplative, and oddly beautiful 150 minutes that follow in what is one of the year's most surprising films.

Rife with biblical allusions and ostensibly grounded in an old fashioned exploration of good vs. evil, Prisoners is more than just your standard kidnapping thriller. It explores the existence of evil, but not in the ghoulish abstract. Nor does it simply give the audience a jolt (which it does, expertly). Rather, it forces us to think about evil's complexity and everyday-ness—particularly the way it can grow and spread once it takes root, like the trees so eerily and intentionally present in so many of the film's frames.

The film's exploration of goodness and badness begins on Thanksgiving as Keller and Grace Drover (Jackman and Maria Bello) celebrate with their friends the Birches (Viola Davis and Terrence Howard), along with both couples' kids. The warmth, smiles and laughter of these early scenes doesn't last long. When the families' two young daughters go missing later in the afternoon, after going outside to play, darkness descends and a cold, wet, bleak battle with evil ensues. A local detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrives on the scene and attempts to unravel the mystery of the girls' disappearance. A mysterious man with a mental handicap (Paul Dano) becomes a person of interest. With every day that ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueGene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
Subscriber Access Only
Gene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
The graphic novelist and MacArthur Grant recipient sees his life as an outsider as a blessing.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickThe Title IX Lives of Christian Colleges
The Title IX Lives of Christian Colleges
Why CCCU schools are split on claiming one of their legal rights.
Christianity Today
'Prisoners' and 'Rush': The Good, The Bad, and The Evil
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

September 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.