The tagline of the film reads "Every moment counts", and it most certainly does in Prisoners. This thriller is directed by Denis Villeneuve. The plot focuses on the abduction of Keller Dover's and Franklin Birch's two young girls in Pennsylvania and the resulting search to find them. Dover takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
The film stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano. Jackman gave the best performance of his career, as he plays the father of one of the missing girls and does whatever it takes to find them. Gyllenhaal has never been better with his portrayal as Detective Loki. It was a truly compelling, subtly layered portrayal of a man tasked with the impossible and driven by the demons of his own past. Gyllenhaal has given a myriad of outstanding performances throughout his career. But his work in this film achieves a new level of complexity, as reflected in the rave reviews the film has received. Davis gave a great performance especially in the emotional and grieving moments in the film. Bello gave one of her finest performances as she plays the loving mother of one of the two girls who becomes emotional unstable and spirals into despair as the plot moves forward. Howard gave an emotional performance as he played a character that spoke on behalf of the audience as he questions Jackman's character on how far he is going. Leo gave another wonderful performance as the old aunt of the suspected victim with a secret to hide. Finally Dano gave a remarkable performance that was almost the equivalent to a classic Hitchcock character such as Norman Bates from Psycho (1960).
Haunting, suspenseful, and masterfully acted, Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing and disturbing viewing worthy of a classic Hitchcock thriller would. Thanks to a strong performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal and smart direction from Denis Villeneuve, it hits the mark as a tense, uncommonly adventurous thriller. But what exactly is the movie saying about all this? It could be that torture is always morally culpable, that it never elicits anything of value – or it could be that it is dirty work that gets results. But, in the end, the film is unforgettably relentless in asking moviegoers if Keller has gone too far. And, by extension, asking us how far we would go. The scenes in this film are beautifully framed and Villeneuve gives a taut direction for every scene. To conclude, possibly, Villeneuve has done his best work yet here. A decent thriller that's ultimately saved by its stellar performances and absolutely enthralling last act. It's hugely entertaining and exceptionally involving. The result is a typically memorable Hitchcock thriller, with great dialogue, building tension, and innocent people forced to get themselves out of trouble on their own.
Simon says Prisoners receives
Also, see my review for Incendies.