Released on September 20, 2013 0 comments

The Vigilante slash revenge theme has made frequent appearances on the big screen over the last several years. Most like to think Charles Bronson kicked it up to the current levels with his “Death Wish” series, but those romps were far from originals. From Clint Eastwood’s squinty Man With No Name, to Chandler’s Moose Malloy in “Farewell My Lovely,” and even back into the writings of Shakespeare, the protag looking to mete out his own brand of necessary justice is timeless because we can, on some level, relate.

So why has the genre been so demeaningly represented the past few years? Kevin Bacon’s repulsive turn as a once sterling husband gone cra cra in “Death Sentence” might have been the worst movie of the last 10 years, and that is low praise indeed. There was nothing about it worth watching, not one frame, nada. It was demented and grotesque simply for the cynical sake of being sick, kind of like this season’s first episode of “Sons Of Anarchy.” However, Death Sentence is by means the only example. There are many other recent, sub-human efforts. We’ll never be able to wipe the scourge of “The Brave One,” or “8MM” from our mental hard drives.

It’s a fine line, serving up a vigilante/revenge flick that compellingly works – “Man On Fire,” and one of Denzel’s best – or a chunk of rotting sewage that fails miserably, like “A Man Apart,” one of Vin Diesel’s many ill-conceived misfires.

“Prisoners” brings Wolverine Hugh Jackman into the mix, something that might prove detrimental to his resume. This gloomy two hours is far too reminiscent of “Ransom,” a flick with the same subject matter made during the height of Mel Gibson’s better days. Even so, his Ransom performance left most stunned, and us laughing. It was a silly, visceral mess, with Gibson writhing as an uncaged fool, trying to get his kidnapped son returned. It was the first of many darts to come in Gibson’s once unassailable persona.

“Prisoners” doesn’t even bother to change playbook, as the caring but overburdened family has its kids snatched – on Thanksgiving no less – when Clans are actually supposed to pretend to pay attention and give a damn.

From there Jackman turns into a demented one-man wrecking squad, taking out frustrations on the unmotivated and unaffected cops by grabbing up the most promising suspect and putting him through torturous games.
Paul Dano certainly can pass for a sicko who would abscond with a pair of younsters, but the entire escapade is clichéd and over-heated.

Much better suited to the Lifetime Network.