Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Terence Howard
Director: Denis Villeneuve
What’s it about
The biggest fear any parent has is not only losing their child, but dealing with the trauma of them going missing. Prisoners is a tight psychological thriller that weaves a superb story of kidnapping layering it with so many different emotional twists and turns that you stay with the protagonist till the end. The Dover (Jackman and Bello) and Birch (Howard and Davis) families are friends who decide to meet over a Thanks giving dinner. Their daughters Anna and Joy go for a casual walk outside but never come back. Alarm bells start ringing when they learn about a van that was spotted at the place where the girls went missing. A search and rescue mission begins, but isn’t a regular hunt, this one turns into a mind numbing cat and mouse game between the families and the kidnapper.
Villeneuve manages to create a uniform tone to the film till the very end. The suspense and thrill is real. Also dialogues and the interactions between the families is so heart felt that you want them to triumph and find their toddlers. Both Jake Gyllenhaal who plays a police detective and Mellisa Leo who plays aunt to the owner of that van might be supporting characters but they have important role in the way the story folds out. Despite the gloomy mood, the action never stops and with every twist we get to see a new angle to the investigation.
Roger Deakins camera work is outstanding and does a superb job in capturing the grey skies over Pennsylvania. Jackman brings certain honesty to his performance that makes the experience so much rewarding. A father in real life, we can relate to his emotions and frustration in every scene.
We wish Davis and Howard who are both outstanding actors had longer tracks. There is no fast resolution to the story, so those wanting a quick fix will have to reign in their impatience. Second half does deal with some moral issues and raises questions about values and things we believe in. While it is part of the story line it gets a bit preachy.
What to do
Prisoners is a tight gripping thriller that will engage you from the very first frame.