Movie Review - Prisoners
Critic's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Terence Howard
Direction: Denis Villeneuve
Duration: 2 hours 32 minutes
Story: The Dover and Birch families meet for a Thanksgiving dinner, after which their six-year-old daughters Anna and Joy go for a walk. They don't return. The occupant of a van parked outside is the immediate suspect. Keller Dover (Jackman) then embarks on his own manic search for the girls.
Review: Keller is a religious man whose motto is to 'be prepared'. Accordingly, his basement is stocked up for an apocalypse and the lines on his face show that he's known struggle all his life. Alex Jones (Dano) is the occupant of the dilapidated van parked outside their home and after the girls go missing, Keller's gut instinct that Alex is behind the abduction turns him into a man obsessed with breaking Alex.
Investigating the case, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is tattooed, brooding, speaks little but is firm. His only sign of emotion is a nervous facial tic. He has never lost a case before but this one tests his mettle to breaking point. His performance builds with quiet intensity. After a round of questioning, Alex, who seems to have the cognitive ability of a small child, is released. Nancy and Franklin Birch (Davis, Howard) believe in Loki's efforts but are mired in grief. As the search goes on and hope begins to dim, Keller descends into his own heart of darkness and his wife Grace (Bello) slips into a sedative haze.
The violence isn't glamourised, but looks as real as possible and therefore, sometimes disturbing. Most visual cues are suggested, but are never overt. Villeneuve's meticulous vision and cinematographer Roger Deakins' lustrous palette of greys, blacks and overcast skies set up an ominous mood, aided superbly by Johann Johannsson's music.
A film with many emotional components, the visceral panic, desperation and helplessness any parent would feel when their children are abducted, forms its bedrock. Each watershed point takes its own time to build. This ensures that you will want to pay attention to the details that makes Prisoners so enjoyable.
Note: You may not like this film if you don't enjoy dark thrillers that touch on morality issues.