Eight years ago, director Denis Villeneuve directed Prisoners. The title Prisoners still grabs my attention today as much as it did in 2013. The film is a silent, yet haunting thriller that holds its viewers on the edge of their seats. With many questions, no answers, tons of lacking evidence, and one man that will take risks in his own hands to find his daughter. Despite all the efforts the assigned detective is doing, that may not be enough. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances are riveting and outstanding. Villeneuve’s directing makes us wonder who is more of the one to trust in a film where time of the essence of survival is critical.
The film begins on Thanksgiving with Keller Dover (Jackman), Grace Dover (played by Maria Bello), and their kids Ralph Dover (played by Dylan Minnette), and Anna Dover (played by Erin Gerasimovich). The Dover’s have Thanksgiving dinner at their neighbor’s house, and they are the Birch family. This includes Franklin and Nancy Birch (played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis), and their daughter Eliza Birch (played by Zoe Soul). After the thanksgiving festivities Anna and Eliza decide to go over to the Dover’s to hangout, then after a while both families come to realize their daughters are not to be found. Both families are in panic mode and scared. They realize there is only one lead being an RV on their street because of how both Anna and Eliza played on it earlier in the day. The police get involved and there is a detective assigned and he is Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal). He finds the RV and a victim in the RV established. That victim is Alex Jones (played by Paul Dano). Jones was driving the RV but has a low IQ and delays in communication. Mr. Dover believes that Alex is either the kidnapper or is associated with why his daughter is missing. As the authorities go lenient on Alex (due to his mental state of mind and lack of evidence), Mr. Dover begins to take drastic steps to find the answers of where his daughter might be. But also, Detective Loki questions Mr. Dover’s thinking.
What sold me on Prisoners so much was the conflict of conversations between Mr. Dover and Detective Loki. Detective Loki knows Mr. Dover may be up to no good (and he is up to no good), but also the leads or evidence to find the daughters are little. The film becomes a raise for three problems. The first one being the girls missing, the second one being what Mr. Dover is doing to try and find his daughter, and the other being little to no time for survival of the missing girls. The judgment of both the individuals are mentally stressful. At the same time more harm or danger is building for everyone. Prisoners has a trail of deceit, dishonesty, and evidence that fail where Detective Loki and Mr. Dover begin to not be able to mentally handle the situation.
Prisoners is a masterpiece with obscurity done thoroughly. The suspense is eerie and so is its faded cinematography and spooky use of music. The outcomes in the investigations are unsettling. Despite how creepy Prisoners gets, it characterizes suspense. Four stars!