Prisoner’s Daughter promised much, with lead actors Brian Cox and Kate Beckinsale, but disappointed greatly. The running mantra throughout was, ‘Violence is not the answer’. Yet again and again this is negated by the action. Indeed the film seemed to claim, ‘Violence is the only solution’. This is a tired, regressive movie about a former hard man, previously known to torture and kill for money, who is now seeking redemption from his long-suffering daughter. The film is set in the faceless suburbs of Las Vegas.
Cox is the ex-con who, despite his vicious past, seems beloved by everyone: fellow prisoners, wardens, and he also has a multitude of friends on the outside. Thus, he can pull in favours and change lives due to this endless number of admirers. He is beloved by everyone that is, except for his unforgiving daughter, Maxine, played by Beckinsale. Maxine is a hardworking single mother, holding down two jobs but still unable to pay for the medication for her epileptic son Ezra (Christopher Convery).
Ezra is an exceptionally bright teenager who is bullied at school on account of his seizures. That problem is solved by his ex-boxer grandfather arranging boxing lessons for him so that, in a very short time, Ezra can turn the tables and beat up the bullies. Violence works! The final retribution, against ex-husband, drug-addicted, womanising musician, played by Tyson Ritter, is particularly unsettling. This character is allowed no moment of hope and the ending leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Overall, Prisoner’s Daughter is a dispiriting watch, despite the valiant work of Cox and Beckinsale. A similar story has been attempted many times and this script offers no surprises and no fresh solutions on the theme of forgiveness.
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