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I can't recall the last Russian film I saw or even if Prime Time is the very first. Regardless of that, the straightforward premise is interesting from the get-go, and it doesn't waste any time, putting the viewers inside the action almost instantly. The initially suspenseful, tense atmosphere gradually becomes lighter and less threatening as the characters interpreted by Bartosz Bielenia, Magdalena Poplawska, and Andrzej Klak begin to understand each other. At first, this makes the hijacker and the hostages incredibly intriguing characters since the viewers still don't know anything about them.
Unfortunately, as time goes by, little do the viewers end up actually discovering about them. Sebastian gets a decent development that helps the viewers anticipate the last few minutes, but it still falls short of what's necessary for a supposedly nerve-wracking thriller. The TV presenter lacks depth and the security guard barely even speaks, turning the viewers' possible connection to the characters very hard to achieve. The bond that these characters create is so mysterious and seemingly unjustified that it just makes the predictably underwhelming ending even worse.
The social commentary is explicit, and I do quite like its message - too attached to the ending, I would spoil it - but it's the deficient storytelling that takes the viewers and the characters through a rollercoaster missing crazy loops and adrenaline-fueled falls. Jakub Piatek's direction shows hints of his talent, but it lacks energy. Finally, his screenplay co-written with Lukasz Czapski holds an attention-grabbing premise and an exciting first act, but just like every other component, it loses gas quite quickly, culminating in an emotionally unimpactful yet somewhat fitting climax.
Prime Time boasts an intriguing premise and an extremely engaging first act, but it loses this initial energy as time runs by, ending with a predictably fitting yet underwhelming final act. Despite the good performances from the cast, Jakub Piatek and Lukasz Czapski's screenplay places the three characters at the center of the story, but they lack compelling and more in-depth development, making it challenging for the viewers to establish any sort of connection with the protagonist(s). Its message is more than clear, and it's quite satisfying, especially considering it indirectly builds that final moment. However, the path that the viewers need to walk to get there might not be as entertaining and thrilling as one would expect.