Film Review: PRISONERS

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Aaron Guzikowski
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bella, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano

When two little girls are abducted on Thanksgiving Day, suspicion immediately falls on Alex Jones (Dano) the owner of a van spotted outside the Birch House. However, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is quickly convinced that the young man is too intellectually challenged to pull off such a thing. His aunt (Leo) has raised him and his simplemindedness is documented.

One of the girl’s fathers (Jackman) cannot accept the release of Jones and immediately begins a campaign to get him rearrested or at least to force him to confess. The other father (Howard) reluctantly helps him with this endeavor.

But the plot is far less simple than this, and it is certainly not a movie for the faint-hearted. It is great on atmosphere, acting, and features a twisty plot.

It is also far too long (making me feel like a prisoner at times) and too much of the explanation comes in staccato bursts at the end.

The title refers to almost every character in this story. They are victims of a past they can’t escape. Villeneue made one of my favorite films of a few years’ back INDENDIES. This deals with lesser material but shows the same flare and gift for story telling. Recommended.

Patti Abbott