Prisoners is the story of two families broken by the abduction of their two young daughters on the day of Thanksgiving. A simple thriller and an overdone conflict as it may seem, Prisoners is much more than that. It plays with people’s limits, with their morals and with their hearts. With their beliefs. It tells a tale that sounds very true, with an incredible amount of tension for over two hours.
The strength in which the story is delivered is in great part thanks to the amazing cast it has, led by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, two very experienced actors that have a chance to shine here. Jackman as the suffering father of one of the missing kids, able to do anything to find her. Anything. And Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki, a twitchy but committed cop who steals the show completely. Special mention to Paul Dano, the driver of the RV. Those who have seen the movie know why.
Denis Villeneuve, known for his Oscar-nominated movie Incendies (2010), directs a very compelling story about human nature and a very different take on crime. It makes both the family and police likable characters, and instead of focusing on whodunit it focuses on how will they deal with it. There’s also the motif of religion, present in everything of the movie, from the very start and connects everything, like a kind of invisible spider-web. Villeneuve handles many different elements with ease and effectively creates a haunting atmosphere that covers the movie in its entirety.
Some scenes will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, and the end has been quite polemic, but there is no doubt that Prisoners is a very complete film. It makes the most of its characters and situation, that plays with religion and family and one’s values in the perfect pace. In a few words, Prisoners is an intense, well done thriller, and a very recommendable film.