Prisoners: When two six-year-old children go missing the local detective and one of the parents try to solve this with two completely different methods. This has a great cast, and leads with Jackman and Gyllenhal, who are both in great form; one as an unconventional detective, he other as a pragmatic father with everything to lose. I feel rather sorry for Paul Dano however; he only ever appears to get cast as creepy and/or insane and/or perverted characters. The film’s mood is beautifully crafted: it’s slow, brooding, and intense with lots of sustained anxiety – child abduction is a heavy enough subject, but when you add torture and a potential creepy cult into the mix it’s serious stuff; it reminded me of watching Kill List and feeling suffocated in parts. The city and the suspects are perfectly shot to look grimy, grotty, dilapidated and repulsive. Although it centers on a ‘micro drama’, there are plenty of larger questions and ideas lurking in the background, challenging your viewpoint and making you choose who’s wrong, who’s right, who would you be in this film? Prisoners is a completely gripping and compelling thriller about ordinary people in extreme situation; and while it’s not an ‘enjoyable’ film per sé, it’s completely immersive.
Awake (Series 1): after a fatal crash a cop lives two lives, one where his wife survived, the other where his son did – he’s just not sure which one is his dream. It’s a high-concept show, but it helps that both ‘realities’ are instantly distinguishable: different partners, cases, therapists and to further aid distinction, one has a cold turquoise hue, whilst the other is a glowing amber colour. The first 10 episodes are basically dual-homicide investigations, where details from one world are subconsciously pointing Detective Britten towards the clues in another, very interesting, and easy to roll with. There’s a much bigger story/conspiracy that’s infrequently – but ominously – mentioned, although it doesn’t materialise until Ep10. (Hello to) Jason Isaacs is fantastic, having a difficult dual-role and really shining towards the end of the series when his character and psyche starts to buckle under the stress. The rest of the cast are all decent, but it’s a one-man show. Episodes 10-13 are fantastic, thrilling and adrenaline-pumping, leading in to the final 15 minutes of the series; which has Inception levels of mind-bending inner-consciousness, in which it looks like we’re going to see a definitive, wrapped up, (brave) one-season deal – then WHAM… a wholly unnecessary – series tainting – final scene. Despite that, Awake is a fresh, new and interesting twist on quite a stale, overcrowded format & genre. Top production, writing, acting and more family/police procedural than action thriller – it’s very watchable top-drawer Telly.