By Eddie Burton (New Jersey)


Nowadays when you hear the daughter kidnapped story, you immediately associate it with such action films as Taken and almost all 80s movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This movie does realize that the story is currently being used for ludicrous but fun action films and decides to make it as realistic as they possibly can. The film stars Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, who along with his wife Grace, played by Maria Bello, go over with their two children to their neighbors house for Thanksgiving dinner. Their neighbors are Franklin and Nancy Birch, played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis. The whole day goes great and the two youngest daughters from the Birch and Dover family go outside and mysteriously never come back. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhall) is put on the case to find the two girls and we have our story.

What is most surprising about the film is how realistic this movie is. The choices our characters make, the motivations of our villains, and the outcomes of certain situations all seem as if they could happen in real life. Which makes it all the more tragic to see how things do end up with certain characters and sub plots. Particularly one character and his sub plot. I won’t give anything away but once you see the film, you’ll figure it out. If you’ve already seen it then obviously you know who I’m talking about.

The plot as a whole keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time and I can honestly say that this is the first movie of 2013 where I didn’t know where the story was going to go the whole time I was watching the film. It really did keep you guessing throughout its entirety. It had an incredible amount of suspense as well. The film is very patient with setting up a scene and also developing its characters. What’s also great in the film is how violent it is. It should be mentioned that if you plan on seeing this for a date night or a good time at the movies, go see something else. Anything else. Because this film can be rather disturbing. But oddly enough, I think that works to the films advantage. All the violence and gore only helps make the story more realistic and our characters more humanistic and in a sick kind of way, relatable.

What this film does is make you relate to the characters. Whether you want to or not. For example, Keller Dover captures a suspect who may have captured the two girls and tortures him until he talks. What he does is disgusting, vile, and uncomfortable to watch. But I’m sure no father would deny the fact that they would do the same thing if they had the opportunity to. Which makes it all the more terrifying to watch. Which again, works to the films advantage. One problem with the film however is that the plot does get a bit murky and hard to follow in the third act. Some plot points don’t add up and don’t really transition as smoothly as the rest of the film does. Also the twist at the end is nothing to get excited about. If anything its anticlimactic. Which wouldn’t be awful usually. But for a film so smartly written, you expected something a bit more creative rather than generic. What I also realized is that everything ends happily.

Every conclusion to every sub plot and the main plot ends positively which is understandable due to the fact that the rest of the film is dark and uncomfortable. The writer wants to leave the audience with the knowledge that everything ends up ok. I would’ve preferred that we got an ending that fit with the tone of the rest of the film. Rather something ending tragically instead of positively. Also, one thing many had a problem with is how long the movie was. Yeah, I’ll even admit, it did drag on quite a bit however every time I thought it was about to end, I prayed it went on a little bit longer. Which can only mean a good thing.

The strongest factor in this movie are the performances from the entire cast. You got a star studded cast that give star studded performances. Hugh Jackman shines with his intense and electric performance as the passionate, aggressive father trying to find his daughter. On equal level is Jake Gyllenhall, who I’m not a huge fan of. However, he brings in a great performance as the relentless detective Loki trying to find the two girls. The rest of the cast does fantastic as well. This movie, dare I say, is probably the best mystery movie since Se7en incorporating all the elements you need in a mystery story. Altogether this film has very little wrong with it. It has an intriguing story, strong performances, humanistic characters and a realistic feel throughout. In my opinion, one of the best films of 2013. A movie that keeps you entertained despite its source material.

Rating: 4/5



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