You will be drained of all your emotions and left stumbling out into the night after two and a half hours of heartache and tension.
The beautiful, ominously tinted lens of cinematographer Roger Deakins will send you through rainstorms and in and out of every dark corner, wooded land and basement of the working-class Pennsylvania suburbs. This sinister mood is reflected in Keller Dover’s desperate state of ruthless apprehension to find the two missing girls. Hugh Jackman is electric in his portrayal of Keller, the survivalist who is strung on vehemence and religion. Instantly, Denis Villeneuve is dispensing a truckload of ethical themes for the audience to contend with. How extreme can one act in order find their daughter?
Although the film runs for two and a half hours, all the actors are perfect throughout. There doesn’t appear to be a wasted frame with first rate editing from Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (editors of many recent Clint Eastwood movies). Jake Gyllenhaal is an extremely talented actor and a perfect cast for Detective Loki; he is trying to stay an honorable detective without getting his hands too dirty. Keller, however, has other plans and isn’t prepared to hang around for Loki and his team. Loki and Keller are a picture-perfect match for solving a case, but it proves too challenging to be anything but quarrelsome. Yet, it is obvious that these two characters, in any other situation, would magnetise like best buddies.
The screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski (writer of Contraband) is constantly forcing you to ask questions that don’t have answers. It is the thriller genre doing what it does best. The title Prisoners is thought provoking, as it is not only the literal victims who are prisoners, but everyone involved in the situation at hand. The case is not over until the girls are found, as is always the case with crimes like this, one needs closure to move forward. Not knowing will eventually kill you. The parents are captured in this numbing light of despair; the atmosphere is so menacingly fraught upon the realization of the girls’ disappearance, that I almost felt a claustrophobic wave of air fill the room. You will become a prisoner to your seat, you need to be brave, but you will be left a more liberated individual than before.