Do you remember the prophetic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Dr. Marcus Brody tells Indiana Jones not to mess with the Ark of the Covenant? Jones saw no reason to respect spiritual order or the Ark’s energy to take care of itself, and he paid dearly. A similar issue faces Keller Dover, the desperate, willful protagonist in Prisoners.
Keller (Hugh Jackman) is the force that barrels through Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, when a terrible personal catastrophe goads him into making increasingly perilous and forbidden moral choices.
Keller and his wife Grace (Maria Bello) are spending Thanksgiving with their close friends Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis) Birch. The Dovers’ and Birches’ young daughters – Anna and Joy, respectively – go out for a spell, and never return.
A white RV parked nearby, which had been occupied by a mentally challenged Alex Jones (Paul Dano), becomes the first clue. Alex, whose aunt Holly (Melissa Leo) enters the fray, is pursued by a smart, analytical police detective named Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). But when Loki can’t legally contain the suspect, Keller opts to do just about anything to get Anna back.
At the movie’s start, Keller, a man of strong religious convictions who wears a cross, recites the Lord’s Prayer right before monitoring his son Ralph’s (Dylan Minnette) deer kill. That loin of venison – with its sacrificial innuendos – provides Thanksgiving’s main course. A decent man, Keller’s played it by the good book. And now, with Anna missing, the Deity’s kingdom, power and glory suddenly become a red line he finds necessary – and relatively easy – to cross.
This is a Father thing: He above, Keller down below, one paternal force to another. You know, “Our Father” vs. my daughter.
Prisoners is archetypally rich and unfolds like a novel. Each chapter escalates more deeply into Keller’s Saturnine end-justifies-the-means rationalizations, which aligns with his self-sufficient way of preparing for life’s greatest blows. His going rogue (Uranus) and breaking away (Uranus) from the rules (Saturn) and even religious commandments (Saturn) have consequences. And he learns that the flip side of freedom (Uranus) may well be physical and spiritual imprisonment (Neptune). If Prisoners has a message, it’s that the Old Testament eye-for-an-eye approach is quite effective – as long as it doesn’t backfire.
Astrology Film Review: ♄♅♆♇ (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)