Prisoners: Rated “R“ (2 hr. 26.)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
It is every parent’s waking nightmare, and worst fear rolled into one. your child is missing.
Now, with your child gone from your sight, every second counts. What would you do? How far would you go to rescue her? When the six year old daughter of Keller Dover (Jackman), a rural Pennsylvania, independent contractor goes missing along with her friend, Dover faces every parent’s worst nightmare. The only lead to the disappearance to the two girls is a dilapidated RV that was spotted earlier on the street. A local Detective named Loki (Gyllenhaal) is put in charge of the investigation and almost immediately arrests the driver of the RV, a mentally challenged young man named Alex Jones (Dano). Unfortunately a lack of physical evidence forces the police to release him. With the police pursuing different leads to no avail and his family life disintegrating, a desperate Keller decides to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will he go to save his daughter?
The two young girls, Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) are absent for most of the film, building the suspence of what happened to them, where they are and their ultimate condition, but we get to see the panic, terror and fear build in both Dover and the other father, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) as they begin to deal with the problem on their own — outside the law. The two men and their wives, (Maria Bello and Viola Davis) also each deal with the disappearance in their own way (Keller’s wife goes nearly catatonic, while Birch’s has a stronger side).
Still there is more suspense than terror in this kidnapping film (with Jackman eerily channeling a Ransom-era Mel Gibson) as he descends into the kind of madness that only a distraught father can feel. As a parent, we never feel good about children-in-danger scenarios but we never quite got that part of this film, all we felt was the terror and horror of the parents involved. So, in spite of all that, or perhaps because of all that, we are highly recommending this film for the story that drive it forward, the twists and turns, the very stunning surprise (but well supported) ending, as well as the stellar performances of all of the cast, including Jackman and Gyllenhaal.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.