Prisoners is an intense thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano. The story surrounds the disappearance of two young girls, Anna and Joy, and the actions of Keller Dover (Jackman), Anna’s father, and Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) as they each try to find the girls in very different ways. When Detective Loki is forced to release primary suspect Alex Jones (Dano), Keller takes matters into his own hands. Prisoners is a harrowing and deeply disturbing film about how far this father will go in order to find his daughter. I don’t want to say any more as this is a mystery and it goes places that really surprised me. It is a tough film to stomach but is worth it in the end.
The first thing that stands out from this film is the outstanding direction. Villeneuve creates beautiful visuals at every step, especially in his use of lighting in dark places and striking contrasts of colour. Scenes that take place at night stand out especially, as things like candles, street lights, and police lights contrast strikingly against the pure darkness; it is truly stunning and beautiful to look at. Villeneuve also creates a perfect, suspenseful tone by giving this film a deliberately slow pace, without making the film drag. Combining this direction with an incredibly well-written script and an intriguing story creates a great mystery.
In my opinion, Hugh Jackman’s character and performance are what makes this film so special. I don’t want to spoil it, but his arc as a character is fascinating and original. He manages to be a horrifying monster and a sympathetic victim. Jackman shows a side of his acting talent that I haven’t seen before. He adds another layer of fear to the film, as child abduction is scary enough on its own. He is very shouty during the film but it works. Gyllenhaal also gives a very strong performance, he is the most relatable character and he does it very well. Hugh Jackman steals the film though.
It’s hard to talk about Prisoners without spoiling its brilliant atmosphere and horribly fantastic plot. The story goes places that you might not like or expect, but it is a brilliant experience. Along with beautiful visuals and outstanding performances, this film is definitely worth your time.
P.S would have reviewed Arrival, which is from the same director, but I really didn’t know where to start with that one! It’s great! I’ll probably try soon but I thought I’d do this for now.