Number one in the box office last weekend, “Prisoners” is a dark and twisted human commentary on just how far a father will go to protect his family. The star studded cast of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, and Terrence Howard set the audience for high expectations and delivered a film full of suspense, thrills and anticipation.
The film begins on Thanksgiving Day, where the Dovers and the Birches (Jackman and Howard’s families) are convening to celebrate the occasion. The two youngest daughters go out to play and don’t return, prompting a wild search effort for a creepy RV described loitering around the neighborhood. Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case and quickly finds the RV with Alex Jones (Paul Dano), a shrimpy man with an IQ of a ten year old, inside. The police let Jones go due to insufficient grounds to detain him and Keller Dover (Jackman) takes matters into his own hands. With the daughters still missing, Dover kidnaps Jones and leaves the audience in a moral dilemma of good versus evil while Loki attempts to solve the case.
“Prisoners” is gloomy from the very beginning. All of the scenes are gray, nighttime, raining or all of the above. The film does an excellent job of making the audience feel unsettled and uncomfortable and, once the daughters are kidnapped, irritated. “Prisoners” is full of false leads and twists that emulate the frustration the parents of the missing children demonstrate throughout the film. The pacing is realistic and believable, with just enough to put the audience on edge. Some of the scenes are disturbing and grotesque, but they only add to the dark atmosphere the film sets.
The performances are incredible as well. Hugh Jackman delivers his character with believability and intensity more unsettling than any Wolverine rage seen before. Viola Davis is heartbreaking in her expression of a mourning parent. Gyllenhaal plays a solid detective but lacks a certain passion for which the rest of the actors pick up the slack.
Well-acted, well written, and guaranteed to disturb, “Prisoners” deserves every amount of praise and is two and a half hours well worth an expensive movie ticket.