To what extremes would you go to protect your family? How can you ever guarantee their safety? And can you ever be truly certain about anything or anybody? These themes and more are examined by a spectacular cast and a gripping and brilliantly conceived story in “Prisoners.” Easily the year’s most riveting drama, you’ll never see what’s coming from one moment to the next and the conclusion will leave you breathless.
Hugh Jackman is an emotional powerhouse as Keller Dover, a hardworking man of faith and family who’s been sober for nearly a decade. When his daughter disappears along with the daughter of his best friends (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis), he takes drastic action against a disturbed young man (Paul Dano) who he believes knows of their whereabouts. Meanwhile, young desperate Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) pursues his very scant leads and uncovers other unknown horrors along the way.
Jackman and Gyllenhaal give equally tormented and gripping yet opposite performances. Jackman is a dangerously raging bull driven to the brink of destroying the very family he is trying to keep intact. Gyllenhaal smolders quietly under a calm and poker faced exterior broken by agitated blinking and sudden violent eruptions. Both are astounding must-see performances and Jackman’s is a sure bet for Oscar consideration.
The ever chameleon-like Melissa Leo is at first unrecognizable as Dano’s aunt in another top notch performance. However, Maria Bello is unfortunately wasted as Dover’s wife. She is relegated to crying, taking sleeping pills and further tormenting Dover by telling him he promised to always keep their family safe. Her character is the only misstep in this otherwise flawlessly crafted and unforgettable film that will leave you feeling less secure in your surroundings.