“Prisoners”, directed beautifully by Denis Villeneuve, is a gritty child abduction thriller that coaxes first rate performances out of every cast member and grips us from beginning to end. Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a suburban survivalist father of two and loving husband to his wife (Maria Bello). Their best friends down the street, played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis, also have two kids and play host to the Keller family for Thanksgiving Dinner. Everything seems suburban normal with the exception of a grimy RV parked down the street. The two young daughters go outside and eventually the families realize they are missing, suddenly vanished. The cop in charge of the investigation is powerfully played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a man who has had some success tracking down pedophile kidnappers but a cost to his psyche. The RV driver (Paul Dano in a masterful portrayal of creepiness) becomes the obvious suspect. But it turns out he is mentally challenged and, with no specific evidence to hold him, his mother (Melissa Leo) finally gets him back from custody. Keller Dover, however, is convinced the cops had the right man and decides to take the law into his own hand. Thus starts the series of plot twists and turns that will inspire conversations about torture and it’s effectiveness, and moral ethics under stress. Villeneuve is terrific with keeping the audience guessing even when we think we know how things will turn out, thanks to a fine script by Aaron Guzikowski. Jackman is a force of nature here, among a slew of other Oscar winners and nominees, he drops the Aussie accent to become a convincing suburban American dad, and displays an authentic parental panic at losing a child with all of it’s level of pain. This will be a big player in the Oscar sweepstakes as the Showcase of Fall Films begins.
MPAA Rating: R
My GPA: 4.0