Prisoners is a crime drama directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival) about the abduction of two little girls, one of them being the daughter of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) who takes matters into his own hands when initial suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is released from police custody. Meanwhile Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) pursues various leads whilst looking for the girls.
This movie is filled with brilliant performances. Hugh Jackman is absolutely fantastic as the distraught father of one of the kidnap victims. The way this character evolves is absolutely fascinating to watch. Jake Gyllenhall is also great as the restless detective. He’s able to bring a sense of narcissism without ever becoming too unlikable. On top of that the police training he received during End of Watch is evident when he’s searching buildings. Finally, Jake brings authority to any scene when he has to boss around other officers.
The supporting cast is also fantastic, with the standouts being Paul Dano as the initial suspect Alex Jones and Terrance Howard and Viola Davis as the distraught parents of the other missing daughter. Even the child actors who play the little girls, Erin Gerasimovich and Kyla-Drew, give convincing performances which isn’t always the case with such young performers.
Nothing in Prisoners feels unrealistic. The family life portrayed in the initial scenes feel genuine and none of the characters are over-eccentric. Dialog is engaging whilst still feeling natural. On top of that you understand why characters make mistakes or do things that aren’t socially acceptable.
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also very well done, with a cold and subdued look to it which is just perfect for the tone. The lighting at night also feels very natural. I’d argue Sicario does some more interesting things with lighting in certain scenes, but otherwise I’d have no ‘faults’ with how this movie was shot.
If I had any complaints it would be the ending, and even then those complaints would be extremely pedantic and by no means ruin this movie. Some might not feel it has a lot of replay value
Prisoners is an intense, realistic crime drama that certainly deserves more recognition. The performances are brilliant and despite a lengthy run time of two and a half hours, it never feels overly slow. If you haven’t seen this one I’d highly recommend it.