Prisoners starts out as a tense and gripping story of every parent’s worst nightmare after two young girls disappear on Thanksgiving Day.

Hugh Jackman is Keller Dover, a husband and father with a survivalist bent whose motto is “hope for the best, prepare for the worst. ” Dover with his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and kids, Anna and Ralph join neighbors Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis) and their daughters Joy and Eliza for the occasion.

The day suddenly takes a turn from ordinary to nightmarish when the two families realize the girls, who’ve gone off to play, are missing. The main suspect becomes Alex Jones, a young man with the mind of a 10 year-old who is parked in a camper at a nearby house right before the girls go missing.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Loki, the loner detective assigned to the investigation who has solved every case he’s ever worked. Gyllenhaal who early in his career wasn’t very interesting to watch has morphed into a versatile, three-dimensional actor and he’s intense and convincing as the dogged, determined Loki who is always watching and connecting the dots. Continue reading »

End of Watch follows two street cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as they patrol the gang infested neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The film uses the now familiar device of showing the action through the lens of a camera. At first this overused gimmick is distracting but as Brian and Mike go about their day, the camera settles down and the technique delivers a voyeuristic quality and a sense of urgency to the unfolding action.

The camaraderie between Brian and Mike is the heart of the film. The relationship between the two feels lived in and authentic from the start. You believe these two guys are cops and best friends. Peña and Gyllenhaal both give natural and organic performances. They both are at times funny, charming, vulnerable and tough. There’s an unpretentious, stripped down quality to the dialogue and story that makes it feel real and immediate. Continue reading »

If you’re thinking of going to see Source Code, erase that thought from your head. It’s ridiculous. The major twist is obvious early on, so that moment where Michelle Monaghan’s character, a sweet teacher named Christina reveals that shocking thing that we’re not supposed to already know is a big yawn. Jake Gyllenhaal is Colter Stevens, the soldier whose mission it is to find the terrorist who has planted a bomb on a train. There is some quantum physics mumbo jumbo spouted as the explanation for how he can be repeatedly transported to those last eight fateful minutes on board the commuter train headed to Chicago. The story lacks tension, surprise or any real emotion. Should you be home with the flu one day and need some mindless entertainment, then stream or rent Source Code. Otherwise, skip this attempt at a time travel/reincarnation hybrid. It’s more disposable than the exorbitantly priced popcorn with fake butter topping at the concession stand.

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