Friday, April 25, 2014


Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal,
Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, 
Melissa Leo, Paul Dano

"A Hidden Truth. A Desperate Search"

This intense drama focuses on every parent's worst nightmare. It is Thanksgiving, the Dovers are spending it with their good friends/neighbors, the Birch family. Soon enough, both of their youngest daughters have gone missing after they went off to get a whistle from the Dover residence.  

Highly dramatic moments ensue as a frantic search is launched for the missing girls by the local police headed by a dedicated and methodical detective named Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). An unlikely suspect named Alex Jones (played by the ever creepy Paul Dano) is held for questioning as he was the driver of a parked RV near where the two girls had played earlier.  I say unlikely because Alex although a grown man has the mind of a 10 year old boy.  So he is released after the mandatory 48 hours of detention without an arrest warrant has lapsed.

This triggers Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) to take matters into his own hands as he kidnaps Alex Jones and under extreme circumstances proceeds to question him. Chained and hidden in the decrepit bathroom of Dover's late father's house, Alex is constantly beaten, slapped and tortured by Keller as time is running out for the missing girls. Some of the torture scenes are simply implied (which is even worse, in my opinion) but you can tell from his screams the punishment were quite extremely vicious.

This line of 'questioning' runs parallel with the official investigation by Detective Loki as he hunts for other 'usual' suspects and the plot takes on an even darker tone.  Set in a seemingly quiet and small American town overcast with bleak weather, the disturbing story tackles vigilantism, vengeance, guilt and innocence as well as the very thin line between victim and perpetrator.

The movie runs at over two and half hours with a slow yet powerful approach. It gets tough as we watch the villain (Alex Jones) turn into a victim himself as the tables are turned and the hero (Keller Dover) transforms in a subtle yet quite effectively forceful manner into for lack of a better word, a monster.  All in the name of finding his beloved daughter but it is quite difficult to justify the punishment/torture he inflicts on the suspect/victim.

The whole narrative leads towards a gritty and open ended conclusion that will leave a lump in your throat. As well as give you a chance to take in oxygen since somewhere between all the high octane dramatic scenes you stop breathing from all the fervent and cringe-worthy action. This even as you contemplate if the end does justify the means and if the methods applied to attain those means are legitimate and humane.

A great cast led by Hugh Jackman, Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal heralds this thriller into one of the best crime stories ever filmed for the screen.  Just be sure you are in the right frame of mind to stomach it. 

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