Gyllenhaal Pierces In Prince of Persia

Jake Gyllenhaal takes us on an action ride with Mike Newell’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” where his parkour-practicing character, Dastan, pierces the imagination of the audience with his skillful stunts and believable charm.

Set in sixth century Persia, the movie follows the adventures of orphan-turned-prince, Dastan, who, after leading a siege on the holy city of Alamut and obtaining a mystical dagger, is framed up for the death of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), the adoptive father who, along with Princes Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell), raised Dastan like his own.

The rogue prince finds an unlikely ally in Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), the lovely overseer of the fallen city. She tells Dastan that the dagger is both a gift and a curse from the gods—it can turn back time and, in the wrong hands, unleash diabolical forces that would bring about Armageddon!

The movie’s familiar story and predictable characters don’t allow the production to completely break out of the action-adventure mold, but its lush look, snappy editing, exotic locales and straightforward storytelling more than make up for its triteness.

Kingsley brings ample gravitas to his role, but his character is written too perfunctorily to serve its purpose in the exposition. More successful with his stereotypical character is the scene-stealing Alfred Molina (as an ostrich-race operator), who provides much-needed humor in the midst of the adrenaline overload.

With his scruffy, good looks and beefy countenance, Gyllenhall brings a breath of fresh air to the sci-fi genre and carries the action-star mantle with masculine ardor and subtle candor—though it’s hard to suspend disbelief that a guy with such hangdog vulnerability could survive all those bare-knuckle scuffles he’s required to hurdle.

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