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'Prisoners' Sounds Familiar: Dano Joins Jackman, Gyllenhaal, Leo

by Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange
October 9, 2012 1:02 PM
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Paul Dano in 2012's "Ruby Sparks"
Paul Dano in 2012's "Ruby Sparks"
Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"
Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"

Imitation is the usual form of Hollywood flattery.

You can count on a movie like "Taken" to not only spawn a sequel (which opened well enough to reinforce Liam Neeson's misguided belief that chasing big paydays is the best career path) but a slew of imitators.

You know that's why "Prisoners" got the green light from Alcon ("The Blind Side"). Similar to the "Taken" series, "Prisoners" tells the story of a small-town carpenter (Hugh Jackman) who takes matters into his own hands when law enforcement fails to retrieve his kidnapped young daughter and friend. Thus Keller clashes with the hot-shot policeman assigned to the case (Jake Gyllenhaal).

At least Canadian filmmaker Dennis Villeneuve (Oscar-nominated "Incendies") is assembling a top-flight cast, most recently adding busy young actor Paul Dano ("Ruby Sparks," "Looper") to the thriller, alongside Melissa Leo. No hint yet about Dano's role, but considering father and law enforcement figure have been claimed, perhaps Dano plays the villain? UPDATE: Not so, suggests an insider with knowledge of the script; he's more likely an unshady character who becomes another victim.

Dano is best known for his roles in Oscar-winners "Little Miss Sunshine" and "There Will Be Blood."  He just wrapped Steve McQueen's historical fictional film "12 Years a Slave," starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. "Prisoners," which marks Dano's first starring role in action-thriller territory, should begin production in early 2013.  Alcon aims for a Fall 2013 release.


  • Anne Thompson | October 9, 2012 4:37 PMReply

    Jane, I see your point and will add him. Thanks for the intel Laura, especially on Dano's role. I stand by the point that Alcon probably gave Prisoners a green light because it was deemed commercial due to the success of Taken. The project could still be waiting for takeoff otherwise, no matter how worthy it is. I do make the point that they have a strong director and cast.

  • L.D. | October 9, 2012 4:17 PMReply

    How easily we jump to (totally wrong) conclusions when we know NOTHING about a project, right, Anne Thompson?

    1. "Prisoners" is a 4-5 year old project. #4 at the famous Black List scripts.
    It had Wahlberg and Christian Bale attached at the time.
    Right now it's taking form because of the impressive cast Alcon managed to assemble (Jackman - on board since he wrapped "Les Mis"; Gyllenhaal - in talks since the summer, signed on last month; Leo - signed on last month). And because of the chosen director (Denis Villeneuve, who wrapped his first english language movie, with Jake Gyllenhaal, in July).

    2. "Prisoners" has nothing to do with "Taken" besides the premise of the kidnapped daughter(s). The rest is completely different, darker, more twisted, blurring the line between what's morally right or wrong, between crime and punishment [the conflict between the vigilante father(Jackman) and the determined detective (Gyllenhaal) takes almost dostoievskian turns].

    3. Paul Dano can't play the villain simply because (.....). I'm trying not to give any spoilers, so let's just say he's definitelly NOT the villain. Most likely Dano will play the shady unstable character who may be a victim himself.

    Word of advise: don't make assumptions & sarcastic comparisons and present them as facts before actually researching a certain subject. You'll make a fool of yourself.

  • Jane | October 9, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    It's kind of an insult to Chiwetel Ejiofor to not list him as the star of 12 Years a Slave. Fassbender won't even appear until the last half of the film. And from what I've read, Prisoners is a Black List script that has been around for quite a while. Hardly a Taken imitator.

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