Down to the wire
Aug 22 2013
What happens when two little girls go missing? Prisoners portrays the drama that ensues
Directed by Denis Villeneuve and scripted by Aaron Guzikowski, the crime thriller stars Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano and Maria Bello. Prisoners, executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, is scheduled to be shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film explores every parent’s worst nightmare — a missing child. Small-town carpenter Keller Dover (Jackman) and his wife (Bello) are at wit’s end — their six-year-old daughter and her best friend have gone missing from near the house of a friend they’re visiting. Minutes turn to hours and the couple panics. Enter Detective Loki (Gyllenhall), a brash young detective who vows to crack the case faster than you can file it. The only lead — as mentioned by the couple’s son — is a decrepit RV that was seen on the street around the time of the kidnapping. Loki picks up the driver, the disturbing Alex Jones (Dano) for interrogation, but is forced to release him for want of evidence. The distraught dad finds himself facing off with the detective, and believes that the investigation is going nowhere. With his child’s life at stake, Dover decides to do all that he can to get the girls back.
Dover ends up capturing Jones, who he believes responsible for the crime, and holds him prisoner to try and find out where the girls are. “Someone has to make him talk, or they’re going to die,” he tells his friend (Howard) and the father of the other missing girl. He goes all out to get Jones to confess, but finds that, along the way, he’s coming close to losing himself. Has he crossed the line between seeking justice and turning vigilante? And has he overstepped boundaries by taking the law into his own hands?
The casting for the kidnapping drama is spot-on. Jackman’s increasingly desperate dad is in great form — he’s intense, frustrated and beside himself. He’s aptly supported by the rest of the cast, especially Gyllenhaal as the in-your-face and pushy Loki and Dano as the mysterious ne’er-do-well. Has Villenueve, a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee for Incendies (2011), crafted a mish-mash of Gone Baby Gone, Taken and Law Abiding Citizen? Prisoners works well as a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire mystery — that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s good to see Jackman sinking his teeth into a different — well, human — role. He should do it more often is all we can say. Meanwhile, he hasn’t bid adieu to his inner Wolverine yet. Jackman returns to the X-Men fold as the Marvel Comics’ superhero in 2014 with X-Men: Days of Future Past, a dual sequel to The Last Stand and First Class!