By Dave B.
In Prisoner X (2015, currently on Hulu), a man is taken into custody after crashing a stolen car with a trunk full of weapons grade uranium in 2002. After being tortured by the CIA, he reveals that he’s part of an group of terrorists sent from the future to alter history. After 15 years, as societies around the world crumble under an onslaught of terrorist attacks, it appears that his group is succeeding in its mission. Enter Agent Carmen Reese, recalled from sabbatical after losing her family in a particularly heinous terrorist attack. Can she stop the terrorists, along with their advanced knowledge and weaponry? Or will she prove as helpless at preventing the world from burning as her predecessors have been?
There are some definite positive aspects to Prisoner X. For a politics nerd like myself, the geopolitical situation is immediately and deeply interesting. The world has gone wild. There are refugees from America’s East Coast streaming into the Midwest. Russia and China are beset by powerful insurgencies. The United States has eliminated several enemies (and allies) in the Middle East, based off of helpful intelligence from their prisoner and are about to attack their friend India. Seeing the news reports in the movie is a lot of (twisted) fun. I also liked the fact that, for a time-travel movie, Prisoner X managed to maintain a relatively consistent continuity, at least as far as not having characters possess knowledge that it should be impossible for them to have.
Unfortunately, the movie’s plot is inconsistent and the motivations of the main characters, both protagonists and antagonists, are somewhat unconvincing, primarily because of the time-travel theory that the movie adheres to. Basically, the movie maintains that the past can’t be changed and that any travel backwards in time creates an alternate reality. If this is the case, what is the point of any of this? No one from the future can actually change anything in their own universe. They can only create a different universe with a different future, that may not turn out how they want and they may never see? And why are the protagonists so interested in gaining time-travel technology if it won’t actually benefit them, just some alternate version of themselves? It’s odd. Further, the manner in which the future terrorists have assisted modern-day terrorist groups comes to seem increasingly impossible as more of the plot is revealed.
In short, Prisoner X is entertaining while it is on, but its plot doesn’t hold up to even the most cursory inspection upon reflection. As an idea movie, it’s great, but it fails in its execution because it can’t maintain a plausible story. Prisoner X is going to squeak by and get a recommendation from me, because it’s interesting enough that most of its flaws can be ignored until the last few minutes of the film. But this is one of the most tepid recommendations that I can give, so keep that in mind if you decide to watch this.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.