Now that I have been a parent for 6 years, dramas and thrillers featuring kids in peril definitely hit a little deeper now. Thrillers like Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling and Mystic River really drive home just how nightmarish it would be to go through any scenario where your child is the victim of any sort of foul play. Hugh Jackman’s new film, Prisoners, looks at child abduction with a unique lens and easily stands up to the work Eastwood has done, and also echoes work by David Fincher as well. Not bad company.
Keller Dover (Jackman) is a bit of a doomsday prepper. He has rations and water in his basement, generators and teaches his teenage son how to hunt his own food should he ever be driven to do so. But when his daughter and the daughter of a close friend (Terrence Howard) both go missing, it is nothing he could have prepared for. A determined detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case and wants to do everything he can to find those responsible, but when a prime suspect is released for lack of evidence, Dover takes matters into his own hands and crosses a line to find his daughter and get her back alive.
Prisoners is a tough watch, but not in a bad way. It is a brilliantly constructed thriller in that it showcases the story from both the point of view of the desperate father who breaks the rules and the detective who has to follow them. The cast are all spectacular here from Jackman and Howard to Maria Bello and Viola Davis as their wives and Paul Dano as the suspect Jackman goes after. Director Denis Villeneuve (Canadian eh?) handles the pacing wonderfully and has a great eye for the shots, giving the film a very David Fincher-esque feel. While Villeneuve may not quite have the visual stylings of Fincher, he still brings the same expert storytelling style to the table. Prisoners is tense, deliberately paced, disturbing, and an exceptionally good thriller. Very highly recommended.
The Blu-ray from Warner Home Video is very nice with deep black levels and natural colors with exceptional clarity and detail throughout. This is a very dark movie not only in story and tone, but in picture but the transfer handles it expertly with a beautiful picture.
Available December 17, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.