Matt Adcock’s film review: Prisoners is a tense treat of a thriller, but you’ll be left hanging at the end

“Someone has to make him talk or they’re gonna die!”

By The Newsroom
Monday, 30th September 2013, 5:48 am
Desperate dad: Hugh Jackman in Prisoners
Desperate dad: Hugh Jackman in Prisoners

Welcome to every parent’s worst nightmare. Prisoners is a nailbiting abduct-em-up thriller that sees average American family man Keller Dover (Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman) trying to deal with the kidnap of his young daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and her pal Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons).

When a massive police hunt locates a dodgy looking RV that had been parked in Keller’s neighbourhood it falls to Detective Loki (Jake ‘End Of Watch’ Gyllenhaal) to take the driver (Paul Dano) into custody.

But with no actual evidence, the police have to release their prime suspect – even though Jackman’s distraught dad is convinced Dano is the only link to saving the girls.

So the dad abducts the driver and imprisons him an abandoned apartment building, and with the reluctant help of Joy’s father (Terrence Howard)tortures him for days trying to get him to give up his secrets.

The tension ramps up further when Dt Loki confronts another suspect who has no children but seems to be buying kids clothes each week. His house is covered in drawings of intricate mazes, among other weirdness, to say nothing of the bloody children’s clothing.

But does this mean that Keller is torturing an innocent man?

As the clock ticks down Keller becomes even more desperate while Detective Loki has to sift through the various clues.

Throw into the mix a possibly dodgy vicar who has a dead body hidden in his basement, and the TV driver’s creepy aunt, and you have all the ingredients for a classy, hard-hitting mystery.

Diirector Denis Villeneuve proves to be a cool, calm calculating operator who has an uncanny knack for wrong-footing you with bursts of menace that punctuate the race against time plot.

Cleverly intertwining elements such as the destructive nature of guilt, the compulsion of vigilantism, the need for penance and a father’s desire for vengeance, Prisoners will take you captive with its fevered subversive world-views.

The cinematography is spot on, the plot twists and turns nicely and Jackman eats up the scenery with a deliciously unhinged performance. Be warned, though, that Prisoners ends with one of the biggest unresolved climaxes ever – so you’ll be walking away contemplating just what might have happened next.

Good luck sleeping afterwards…