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Prisoner X (DVD) Review

June 9, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Prisoner X (DVD) Review  

Prisoner X (DVD) Review


Michelle Nolden– Carmen
Julian Richings– Jefferson
Damn Runyan– Fischer
Romano Orzari– Ramiro
Andrew Lichti-Lee– Medic
Nigel Bennett– President Charles Turner

Directed by Gaurav Seth
Screenplay by Gaurav Seth, based on a novel by Robert Reed

Distributed by RLJ Entertainment

Not Rated
Runtime– 88 minutes

Buy it here

Prisoner X, written and directed by Gaurav Seth, based on a novel by Robert Reed, is a low budget sci-fi thriller that basically takes place in one location, a secret underground U.S. military base known as “the sandbox.” The sandbox houses a terrorist prisoner known as Ramiro (Romano Orzari), a guy who claims to be a time traveler. And, basically, Ramiro is a time travelling terrorist, or at least a time traveler who could be a terrorist. See, Ramiro knows things he probably shouldn’t, especially after he’s been incarcerated for over a decade. How else could he know what he knows if he isn’t a time traveler?

In the midst of a burgeoning world war, the President of the United States (Nigel Bennett) requests disgruntled CIA interrogator Carmen (Michelle Nolden) return to her job and help out old her old CIA pal Fischer (Damon Runyan). Fischer has been in charge, along with the creepy Jefferson (Julian Richings), of Ramiro since he was captured in 2002 (the main story takes place in 2017). The President hopes that Carmen can help Fischer figure out where the next terrorist attack will happen and what country or countries will be involved. Various nuclear powers are on the brink of attacking one another, and, well, the world can’t survive that. Carmen isn’t all that interested in helping out at first, even if the entire is at stake. Carmen had to do some nasty stuff back when she interrogated prisoners during the Iraq war, and she doesn’t think she can do that again. But Carmen eventually relents and agrees to go back to her old job.

The sandbox, as you’d expect, is a grim place where the light and bright colors go to die. It’s a place devoid of happiness and joy and is one of the most depressing work places in the world. Jefferson seems to like it, though, but then you expect him to (the dude is creepy. He just is. A great actor, but creepy as hell). When Carmen arrives she thinks she’s going to meet up with Fischer and get started on interrogating Ramiro. However, just after Carmen arrives, the Ramiro interrogation is put on hold as Fischer has apparently committed suicide in his living quarters. Why the hell would Fischer do that? Carmen intends to find out.

What I found most fascinating about Prisoner X is how everyone accepts the idea of time travel as a real thing. Even when Fischer and Jefferson realize that, yes, Ramiro is a time traveler of some kind and that time travel is possible, it isn’t treated as a major revelation. It’s just something that’s true and that Fischer, Jefferson, and the world are going to have to deal with. You’d think there would be some soul searching, some questioning of humanity’s place in the universe. There really isn’t any of that kind of thing. Time travel is just another problem the terrorist hunters have to overcome. That’s a damn cool idea. And it makes sense because, as the story unfolds, there’s no other way for Ramiro to know what he knows.

What I also found fascinating about the story is how professionalism is the only thing that keeps the interrogators from losing their minds. Carmen keeps having terrible nightmares, she can’t sleep, and she has profound guilt about what happened to her sister and niece (basically, Carmen blames herself for not stopping the terrorist attack that kills her family). She’s constantly on the brink of going over the edge and lashing out. Fischer couldn’t keep it together forever, which is why he ends up killing himself. But when you realize he has been neck deep in the shit of Ramiro’s terrorist shenanigans you understand why Fischer eventually succumbed to suicide. The poor guy just couldn’t take it anymore. It could happen to anyone stuck in the sandbox for an extended period of time.

Well, anyone except Jefferson. Jefferson is a weird character because you’re never quite sure if there’s something else going on with him beyond his service to the United States. Is he a terrorist? Is he a demon? Is there some other far out sci-fi concept at work in the story that Jefferson is manipulating? We eventually find out that, while Jefferson is the exception to the “going crazy” rule, he isn’t a monster at all. He’s a professional like everyone else. He has a job he has to do, and the fate of the world could very well be at stake.

Director Seth knows how to build up suspense and a true sense of dread. He uses his time wisely, doesn’t waste a moment, and knows how to make his set, chock full of shadows and darkness, seem ominous. Seth, along with editor Angela Jekums, also knows how to use stock footage to make his small story seem larger. These stock footage sequences go by quickly, but they blend in seamlessly with everything else. It’s an amazing thing to witness.

The main performances are exceptional. Michelle Nolden, as Carmen, is exactly the kind of no-nonsense CIA agent you’d want leading both an investigation and an interrogation. When she isn’t doing her job she’s just a regular person with emotional issues and whatnot (it’s all in her nightmares). But when she is doing her job, watch the hell out.

Damon Runyan does a great job as Fischer. While Fischer does kill himself towards the beginning of the movie, we see him via multiple flashbacks work with Ramiro and try to figure out if all of this time travel bullshit is real. It’s interesting to watch Fischer sort of slowly break down as the reality of what Ramiro is sets in and Fischer realizes he can’t stop him.

Julian Richings is, as I said earlier, creepy as hell as Jefferson. He has a sinister look that makes you think he’s up to something, and he makes you think that right up until the point where the movie reveals that Jefferson is just a professional. Awesome stuff.

And Romano Orzari is diabolical as Ramiro. Orzari gives Ramiro a calmness that’s unsettling as you’re not sure if that calmness is Ramiro’s natural disposition or if it’s the result of the nano-technology that’s inside of him. There’s a scene where it appears Ramiro has suddenly died of a heart attack or a stroke, but it’s all a trick. Ramiro can manipulate the nanotech inside himself and, in a sense, threatens everyone with his imminent death. The U.S. government can’t get any intelligence out of a dead man.

Prisoner X is a nifty little sci-fi thriller. It’s a bit of a slow burn, it isn’t action packed at all. It is chock full of dread, though, as the world starts to unravel and a time traveler might be responsible for it all. Track it down and check it out. If you’re a sci-fi fan or just a plain old damn good movie fan, Prisoner X is something you need to see.

So see Prisoner X. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: It depends on how you want to count them. If we’re talking just dead bodies in the sandbox, it’s 3. If we’re counting the various stock footage terrorist attacks, it’s in the millions.

Explosions: Multiple.

Nudity?: None. I’m actually kind of surprised that there isn’t, though.

Doobage: A car crash at night, a man in a chair, metal discs, multiple instances of torture, truth serum hooey, multiple blood tests, a pen and paper, jogging, off screen suicide, slit wrists, a seizure, multiple off screen worldwide attacks, some bullshit about an equation, ticks and twitches, a machine part that disappears and then reappears, nightmares, some bullshit about time travel paradoxes, face punching, a hallucination, a broken glass of water, an earthquake, a wicked head shot, multiple explanations on what time travel actually is and how to build a time machine, an on screen suicide, and an uplifting ending.

Kim Richards?: Big time, but it does occur off screen.

Gratuitous: Stock footage of 9/11, an eye scanner, old school smooth jazz, Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, weird meditation, talk of Kashmir, India, exercise bike hooey, and a major ruse.

Best lines: “Tough sonofabitch,” “Is he asking for… pen and paper?,” “Time travelling terrorist? Doesn’t sound scary at all,” “Things have gotten strange, Carmen,” “Time is nothing,” “Don’t put me back in that cell, Fischer,” “What do you mean he’s dead? How can a man just die at will?,” “This world is like a dream, Carmen. Are you ever surprised in a dream?,” “Oh my God! My sister is in Brooklyn!,” “Don’t fuck with me, Jefferson,” “Weed?,” “You’re out of your fucking mind,” “Your mission is terminated here, Agent Reese. Get out of my facility,” “Do you realize what you’ve done?,” “How’s life in Lincoln, Nebraska, Jim?,” “The Indians did this?,” “This? This is what you wanted? A nuclear winter? The end of all of us?,” and “You’re smart, Carmen. You’re smarter than Fischer ever was.”

Movie rating: 10.0/10.0

DVD Info

Prisoner X is presented in 1.78:1 Widescreen.

Audio/Visual Info: Prisoner X has Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and is closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Special Features

Prisoner X: Time is Nothing- Behind the Scenes: This is a ten minute documentary where we see get some talking head stuff from the cast and the director and some actual behind-the-scenes footage. I think you’ll be surprised at how much green screen was used. I know I was. This documentary could have been longer, but it’s interesting anyway.

Trailers: We get trailers for Odd Thomas, Painkillers, Uncanny, and Strapped.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Prisoner X is a great little sci-fi thriller. It’s creepy, moody, thought provoking, and features a great cast. It’s something you should absolutely track down and check out. It’s very much worth your time. Check it out as soon as you can. Awesome stuff.

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Prisoner X, Bryan Kristopowitz