This taut, suspense filled psychological thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal is, without a doubt, one of the best films of the year so far.
Taking place over seven days, Prisoners follows the search for Anna Dover and Joy Birch; two six-year old girls abducted from outside their homes on Thanks Giving, as well as the mental and emotional toll this takes on their families.The film begins at a break-neck pace, the opening credits barely finished rolling before the girls go missing. However, this is by no means another fast-paced action flick, the next two hours slowly building suspense and gathering pace to culminate in a breathless final sequence.
Jackman is again hugely impressive, this time as devout survivalist Keller Dover, father of the missing Anna. Keller’s desperation to find his daughter and the strain this puts on his faith is a central theme to the story.
Following Dover’s descent into violence is Detective Loki, the intriguing police-officer who has never failed to solve a case up till now. Gyllenhaal’s range is apparent here, his restrained performance as the tattooed loner-cop with the facial tick at odds with his last role in the light-hearted End of Watch.The film’s subdued sound-track helps cultivate the sense of tension through-out the film, while the prevalence of trees and other wooden objects is a subtle nod to Dover’s inability to see ‘the wood for the trees’ in his manic attempts to locate the missing girls.
‘Skeletons in closets’ (or under floors) are another key theme; histories of characters becoming increasingly relevant as the film progresses. Indeed, the consistent mentions of both Dover and Loki’s pasts are invaluable in developing a three-dimensional sense of the protagonists.
At its heart though, Prisoners is an impressively told story, one that reels you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat right up to the final second.