Review by Eric
This movie is definitely one that will have you on the edge of your seat, thinking hard about what you would do in certain situations, and trying to keep track of the clues to decide who is guilty. This movie involves violent torture scenes and should only be viewed by adults.
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a religious man who owns a failing carpenter business trying to support his family. He is married to Grace (Maria Bello) and has a teenage boy names Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and younger daughter named Anna (Erin Gerasimovich). The story begins on Thanksgiving Day where Keller takes Ralph deer hunting. Keller’s religious side is apparent right away when we see him recite the Lord’s Prayer (also
known as the Our Father) before taking the kill shot on the deer. After the hunt the whole family walks down the street to their friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Their friends are the Birch family, dad Franklin (Terrence Howard), mom Nancy (Viola Davis), teenage daughter Eliza (Zoe Borde), and young daughter Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons). We see two great families that are happy and get along great. The young girls, Anna and Joy, ask to play outside. The parents approve, but only if the older kids go with them. While walking around the neighborhood they stumble upon an old RV parked in front of an empty house. The girls run up to it and try to climb all over it. The older kids get them away from it and tell them to stay away. Ralph realizes that there is music coming from inside and says he thinks someone is there. A little while later, Anna wants Joy accompany her to the Dover home to help her search for a lost whistle. Grace informs her that the whistle is probably long gone because she has been searching for it for days. She gives in and says again as long as the older kids go with them it is fine.
Sometime in the early evening the Dovers are ready to leave and go to look for the girls, they can’t be found. Keller finds the older kids watching a movie and they inform him that they haven’t seen the kids. Now the Dovers and the Birches are living every parents nightmare: their little girls are missing. Ralph informs his parents of the now gone RV that was parked in front of the empty house. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case. Later that night they find the RV crashed into a tree with a young mentally challenged man named Alex Jones (Paul Dano). He is arrested, but isn’t in custody long. Loki says, “Alex Jones, unfortunately has the I.Q. of a 10 year-old. There’s no way someone with the I.Q. of a 10 year-old could abduct 2 girls in broad daylight.” So, basically they don’t have enough to charge him and half to let him go.
This is where we really start to see Keller react to whats going on around him. He helps walk the woods with the town and the police to search for his daughter. Worried that nothing anyone is doing is enough, he then does the unthinkable. He finds and kidnaps Alex Jones. Keller chains him up and begins beating and torturing him, telling Alex he’ll stop if just tells him where the girls are. Alex never speaks. These scenes are full of emotions. I can side with Keller’s anger, and think that I would want to do that to the person that hurt a child of mine. I feel compassion for a young man with the I.Q. of a 10 year-old, who may be innocent, getting tortured. This compassion leads to me being angry at Keller and thinking that he is no better than whoever took his daughter.
Keller eventually lets Franklin in on what he has done and Franklin is painfully torn with what to do. In one powerful scene he tells Keller that it is too much and he needs to stop. Keller responds, “Do you think there is someone with our girls keeping someone from doing this to them?!” Franklin replies crying, “I hope so.” This is powerful stuff.
Keller is a “prepper” and is quoted in the movie saying, “Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Keller seems to forgotten to pray when he needed prayer the most. Overall I was disappointed with Keller; he let his anger, rage, and hatred for whoever did this to his daughter consume him to the point that he ends up abandoning his wife and son when they need him the most. In Romans 12:19 Paul says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” We are instructed not to take revenge and Keller, who appears to be a religious man, allows for this revenge to take him over. I believe this is one reason why we are told to not avenge ourselves because it is too easy for it to consume us. Without giving away any of the plot twists and turns I will say that the kidnapper says to Keller, “Making children disappear is the war we wage with God. Makes people lose their faith. Turns them into demons like you.” and this person is absolutely right. Keller does loose his faith and does become a demon of sorts.
In the grand scheme of things the world does that same thing to all Christians. People are always raging war with God and in turn, us. Sometimes this outside pressure does cause some to lose their faith, and some even become outspoken atheistic opponents to Christianity. We must be aware that this is happening around us and be cautious. We need to do what is right because the world is watching, but at the same time we are forgiven when we fail because of what Christ did on the cross for us. Keller was a prisoner of his emotions, while we are called to be “prisoners” of Christ. Paul often calls us to be “slaves” or “servants” of Christ, but I think “prisoner” can work in that context as well. We cannot escape the power and love of Christ. We are his prisoner, but of course that is a good thing for the Christian.
I give this movie a 4. It is an emotional roller coaster and you may not be left with feelings of joy or gladness, but you will be happy that you experienced this film. It is rated R for the violent torture scenes and language, this is definitely one for the adults only.