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Entertainment Weekly are reporting that Bryan Singer has become interested in directing Prisoners. The project first made news when Aaron Guzikowski’s hot spec script started doing the rounds with Mark Wahlberg attached to star. There’s been a whole hive-load of buzz about this one, and I can see why Singer would at least give it careful consideration, but is it really a package he should attach to? Even the least of his past projects – Superman Returns and X-Men – had some real high points in their screenplays, and more than their fair share of rock-steady solid pages too. Can Prisoners compare?

Much of the basic set up of Prisoners is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, quite oddly. Wahlberg’s role in each film would be the rough equivalent too – the father of an abducted young girl who sets off on her trail ahead of the police and seems set upon exacting some vigilante justice. In most respects, however, the screenplays couldn’t be more different…

Prisoners wears its central metaphor on its sleeve – it’s right there in the title, in fact. This “boldness” also often leads to some thudding imagery and the odd bit of sledgehammer swinging, which Singer would have to work to soften off. He could do it, for sure, but the script would definitely need another good solid draft to prune away all of the silly, prickly bits. What would be left might make for a decent film, if a rather conventional one that simply rehearses familiar dilemmas and the same tired moral debates that always accompany them. The scenes are definitely well written, for the most part, and several key sequences clip along zippily and clearly, but after too many detours into cliche and some only-in-the-movies moments, I did find my patience being a little taxed.

The film this script describes is definitely a rather conventional genre piece and at best would be remembered for some quick grabs of gripping suspense and the occasional surprising twist or set piece, particularly in the first half. For the most part, though, this script is comprised of the kind of material familiar from the never ending spew of serial killer procedurals that came after Silence of the Lambs, both to cinema and on TV.

I think Singer can do better. Actually, I think Wahlberg can do better. Perhaps most importantly, though, I think Guzikowski can do better.

The comparisons to Se7en and Lambs you may have read around the web are essentially down to the film’s need for grimy, dirty dereliction in the production design and the detainment and sufferance of individuals in the plotting. You might as well name-check those other pungent droppings of tedious Morgan Freeman cop-swallop, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, or even nonsense like The Cell.

Logan’s Run, You Want Me to Kill Him? or Supermanagain, please? Thanks.

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