( MA15+) Denis Villeneuve ( Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis
THIS complex, unsettling and utterly absorbing crime drama ranks as one of the best films of the year.
If you appreciated the refined writing and skilled acting at work in Clint Eastwood’s 2003 masterpiece Mystic River, be assured, the same standards are met in Prisoners.
The film abruptly forces us into the shoes of Keller Dover ( Hugh Jackman) as he walks headlong into a living hell.
Keller’s seven- year- old daughter has disappeared without a trace. So too has a neighbour’s little girl.
The local police have virtually no leads to follow, save for the sighting of a grubby old
ABOUT TIME ( M) campervan seen parked nearby on the night of the suspected abduction.
The driver of the vehicle, an intellectually impaired young man named Alex ( Paul Dano), is soon apprehended.
During an intense interrogation that follows, the lead investigator makes a snap judgment that this suspect is incapable of committing such a crime.
Detective Loki ( Jake Gyllenhaal) has extensive experience with missing- person cases, and a 100 per cent strike- rate in solving them. Loki tells Alex he is free to go.
However, to a principled man like Keller, this is an unconceivable mistake.
He is convinced Alex knows the whereabouts and perhaps even the final fate of the missing children.
So Keller feels he is quite within his rights to abandon all principle, and proceeds to abduct Alex to conduct an interrogation of his own.
Until Alex agrees to confess to his crime, Keller will hold him captive in an abandoned house. Whenever he cannot reach Alex on a mental level, Keller will employ physical powers of persuasion.
Meanwhile, Loki sticks to the methods that have served him so well in the past. The faint outlines of other suspects begin to shimmer on the far horizon of a chilling and challenging case.
The efforts of Jackman and Gyllenhaal in their respective roles are particularly noteworthy
’PATRICK ( MA15+)
It goes without saying Prisoners is a film for which viewers must steel their nerves before watching.
Not only are there two frightening ordeals – the ongoing anguish of the girls’ parents and the unsavoury exchanges between Keller and Alex duelling for our attention.
There is also an unbearably tense mystery exerting an ominous tidal pull of its own upon the audience.
So what can Prisoners offer to drag us from the depths of total despair?
The efforts of Jackman and Gyllenhaal in their respective roles are particularly noteworthy.
Jackman goes with the forceful flow demanded of him and delivers a clear career- best performance.
Gyllenhaal, who represents what stands for reason in a situation where reason barely applies, makes just as telling a contribution.