An ominous and unsettling thriller, the subject of Prisoners—young children in peril—demands the viewers undivided attention. Armed with intense performances and an engrossing mystery, few will find it easy to turn away. Oscar nominated director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) explores just how far parents are willing to go for their children. How far is too far?
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a deeply religious man with a wife Grace (Maria Bello) and kids Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and Anna (Erin Gerasimovich).The owner of a struggling carpentry business, Keller is also a survivalist of sorts, with a basement full of supplies in case of catastrophe. He’s a proud man who believes in being prepared. Keller’s carefully ordered world is shattered on Thanksgiving Day, when six-year old Anna, and seven-year old Joy Birch (Kyla Drew Simmons) the daughter of family friends, are kidnapped. On the case is Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhall) experienced and methodical, he understands the limitations and frustrations of police work. Determined to catch the kidnapper, Loki quickly arrests a suspect, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the owner of an RV seen on the same street where the girls had played earlier in the day. Under questioning, Loki discovers that Alex is a rather passive young man with the I.Q. of a ten-year-old. With no clear evidence linking him to the girls, Loki is forced to release Alex after forty-eight hours. When Keller confronts Alex outside the police station, a whispered statement between he and the former suspect is enough to convince Keller that Alex knows something regarding the whereabouts of his daughter.
As Loki systematically conducts an investigation, Keller takes the law into his own hands, Kidnapping and imprisoning Alex, taking the aggrieved father down a dark road that that will test Keller’s Christian values and blur the lines between good and evil. The title is an appropriate one, in that people are not only imprisoned in the literal sense, but by something beyond their control, whether it be grief, anger, frustration, their job or any combination of those things.
Loki is an fascinating character, particularly since we’re told so little about him. His tattoos and nervous blink hint at a past, but aside from an introductory scene where he’s eating out alone, we never see him outside of work. What we do know, he’s a lawman driven to do a good job.
Jackman’s Keller represents the gray area of morality. A committed Christian and father, everything he preaches and believes is called into question when the people he holds most dear—his family—are hurt and he feels powerless to make things better by ‘legal’ means.
Cast performances are stellar from top to bottom, but the work of Jackman and Gyllenhall are the standouts. Jackman’s Keller is a ball of anger and desperation. You’re never sure what he’ll do next in his unyielding quest to find his daughter. Mario Bello is convincing as his devastated wife, and Paul Dano is excellent as Alex. Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins flawlessly captures the desolation of the situation, while Johan Johannsson’s score (aided by a dash of Radiohead) is suitably ominous.
Prisoners will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Prisoners is a very dark film, so there isn’t much in the way of a bright color palette. The dark shades show extremely well, and the image is very sharp. Roger Deakins’ cinematography effectively captures the dark coldness of the scene throughout. Warner has provided a fine transfer.
The English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio soundtrack is top notch, as every shout and angry demand is heard with superb clarity. Every one of the characters swift movements—footsteps, crunching snow—is captured perfectly. No complaints here.
English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Every Moment Matters (HD, 3:05) Essentially an EPK containing a synopsis, and themes of the film.
- Powerful Performances (HD, 9:24) The cast discusses their characters, preparations for their roles, and impressions of each other.
- UltraViolet Copy
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