Much of Prisoner X’s scenery is dark and grey, which describes my experience watching Gaurav Seth’s movie. It’s not very stimulating and I was left feeling cold.
I tried, I really did, to be involved with this futuristic thriller. The fancy props caught my eye early on, and the innovative use of time travel along with key leading performances from Romano Orzari, Damon Runyan, Michelle Nolden, and Julian Richings steadily built intrigue. I wasn’t too crazy for the film’s jumpy narrative (cutting between 2002 and a not-to-distant 2017), but I knew this decision was going to pay off – it usually does with science fiction.
That interest started to peter off when Prisoner X became too carried away with long-winded interrogations. Then, events would happen off screen and we’d hear about them through outsider transmissions. Then, more talking. And, more puzzle solving. And, then more events, which cued more discussions about subjects the audience couldn’t feel more distant from.
Not since the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: Part I have I felt so disinterested towards what was going on in a story. If Gaurav Seth had found other ways to stimulate the audience through his storytelling, then the film would’ve offered more of an incentive tune in. Although, the filmmaker does succeed occasionally. A shot of an atom cloud reflecting through another’s eyes was a refreshing surprise.
I’m willing to give Prisoner X the benefit of the doubt because I believe there will be some movie goers who will have the patience and stamina for this sort of slow burn – it’s an acquired taste. Those genre fans know who they are; by now, they’ve already bought admission for Prisoner X’s opening weekend. However, those audience members awaiting satisfying results for sticking with the movie may find themselves feeling as gipped as I was when the reward came in the form of cumbersome exposition with a side of over-the-top reactions.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie