Synopsis: Two little girls belonging to 2 different families are kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day. The families are devastated, and are willing to do whatever it takes to bring them back home.

Cast: Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover
Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki
Maria Bello as Grace Dover
Terrence Howard as Franklin Birch
Viola Davis as Nancy Birch
Melissa Leo as Holly Jones
Paul Dano as Alex Jones

I’ve never seen a movie so intense. At least not for a long time. This could’ve easily been a paint-by-numbers type of movie. But thanks to the actors involved, the director and crew, it was anything but.

When the movie begins, it’s Thanksgiving Day. We know from the start that the Dovers are a religious family. They go to the home of best friends, the Birch family, for the Thanksgiving feast. Anna Dover and Joy Birch walk to Anna’s house to look for a whistle. From there, the girls go missing and it takes a huge toll on both families, particularly Keller Dover. Soon there’s a suspect in custody. There is not enough evidence to hold him, so he’s released. Needless to say, this infuriates Dover because he’s convinced that the man kidnapped the girls. Instead of trusting Loki and the police, Dover decides to take matters into his own hands. And it has extremely dire consequences.

All of the performances in “Prisoners” are amazing and Oscar-worthy. But it’s Hugh Jackman (Keller Dover) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Detective Loki) who run the show. Jackman did a brilliant job of portraying the emotions of a person who has lost their child. His descent into madness–being a good man to basically being someone who’s capable of anything–is very believable here. As for Gyllenhaal’s performance, wow! This is some of his best work. We see a man who has to be cool, calm and collected on the outside. But deep down, he wants to find the girls as badly as their families do. We don’t really know much about Detective Loki, but then we don’t really need to. Both Davis and Howard are great at portraying parents who want their kids found, but aren’t as willing to bend the rules as Keller is. I just wish they gave Bello more to do, but her performance was very good.

The whole movie seems to be about morality and gradually losing it. Seeing this happen on film was really unsettling to watch. It’s something you don’t see very often. I think Denis Villenueve did a terrific job with the direction. He put together an amazing, unforgettable movie. I think it was interesting that the weather in the movie was always crappy. I guess it explains the internal state of the characters and the depressing tone of the movie.

This movie is not for everyone. It was very good, but not really made for repeated viewings. See this film, and then watch a comedy afterwards.

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