It’s always good to find a gem or at least a hint of one like Prisoner X that has just been released on DVD and VOD. Much like the cat and mouse game films The Ipcress File and Tinker Taylor Soldier, this psychological thriller contains mystery and misperception within its tantalizing script. The movie has very dark overtones like today’s news that deals with terrorism and punctuates the reasons for the interrogation process. While the film has been made with a low budget, you would never know it from the clever use of sets and borrowed current event film footage.
The film opens in January 2002 with a car crashing into a tree and after searching the vehicle they find 10 pounds of weapon grade uranium. Taking the driver (Romano Orzari) into government custody, Fischer (Damon Runyan) gets the job of interrogating the man who won’t give up his identity. Labeled Prisoner X and only knowing he’s of Middle Eastern descent, Fischer along with his superior Jefferson (Julian Richings) are stumped. Was the material for terror cells and if so where will they strike?
Several years have passed, it’s now 2017, with very little results from the intense torture and other interrogation techniques in the secluded American bunker. They have found that terror cells are involved in Prisoner X’s plan and that he answers only to one man. With the country being on high alert because of escalating world terrorism, Fischer calls for help, Carmen Reese (Michelle Nolden) an interrogator from his past.
Thus begins a cat and mouse thriller that has some twists that you may not see coming and one final “blast” during the last act. Director Gaurav Seth moves his film along at a fast clip while establishing the main characters that work his script to the bone. He captures his audience in a claustrophobic environment showing the captivity of Prisoner X and even some of the torture techniques that are sometimes quite painful to watch. As things get heated up, Seth gives his viewers a chance to take a breath before entering a final chapter that may just catch you by surprise.
The acting by the main cast shows a lot of emotional skill, both fragile and tenacious. While Damon Runyan as Fischer does not have a monumental role, he’s good at getting the initial plot off the ground. His Fischer is stubborn and won’t give up knowing that possibly the whole country depends on his ability to get information out of his prisoner. He has spent fifteen years trying to break the man, and although some things have been uncovered, he hasn’t hit the jackpot.
Taking over the interrogation Michelle Nolden pushes her character Carmen even more than Fischer. She does a very good job of showing several sides of Carmen including some of her weaknesses that take the film in another direction. Nolden controls the uncertainty within the movie playing a “game of chess” that puts the world on edge. The actress may look familiar to you as Nolden has appeared in some high profile TV shows like “Saving Hope” and “Nikita”.
“Behind the Scenes of Prisoner X” If you were confused about anything in the film, it should be clarified in this short.
Prisoner X has not been rated by the MPAA, but it contains scenes of torture, violence and language. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have acts that are inappropriate for youngsters.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good film for those who like spy thrillers.
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Michelle Nolden, Romano Orzari, Damon Runyan, Julian Richings, Nigel Bennett
Director: Gaurav Seth
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama, Crime
Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.
Video Release Date: June 6, 2017
Original Theatrical Release Date: April 8, 2016
Reviewed Format: DVD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen, 1080p Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Number of Discs: 1 Disc
Distributed by: RLJ Entertainment
Released in: DVD and VOD
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.