After frantically searching for the girls to no avail, Keller Dover calls 911 to report his daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) missing. The one lead the family and the police have is a run-down old RV that had been parked on their street earlier that day that Keller’s son says the girls had been playing around and climbing on its ladder. After finding the RV, Detective Loki arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence and the fact that Alex seems to have the mental capacity of a 10 year old leaves the police no choice but to release him.
Hearing Jones has been released, Dover – who’s convinced he knows where the girls are – decides he has no choice but to take the law into his own hands and kidnap Jones. He takes Jones to his father’s old house, ties him up, and begins his own form of questioning.
Powerful and suspenseful, Prisoners is an extremely well-crafted mystery/thriller with superb performances from its cast. Hugh Jackman deserves to be considered for an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Keller Dover, a hard-edged man who loves his family and feels deeply as though he has failed them in allowing his little child to be taken from him and her mother. It’s a raw, emotional, and riveting performance, and the best of Jackman’s career. Jake Gyllenhaal is extremely effective as Loki the determined detective with a perfect track record for solving cases who gets too close to the family and the case. It’s perhaps his best performance since 2007’s Zodiac. Maria Bello captures perfectly the horrible denial, despair, and depression Grace goes through during the hours and days of the search for her missing daughter.
The cinematography of the film is visually impressive, with the use of streetlights and blurring headlights as Detective Loki speeds down the streets, the shots of characters through rain-soaked windows, and the gray, damp, cold of the houses.
The pacing of Prisoners is, unfortunately, its drawback being incredibly slow at times and bringing the tension to a full stop. It’s also 30 minutes too long.
Dark, disturbing, and compelling, Prisoners is without a doubt one of the best dramas of the year with some of the best performances which should be remembered during Oscar season.
Prisoners is rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout.
– By Kevin Finnerty
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