I can’t help but wondering how these excellent stars could be convinced to sign up to be imprisoned in such a difficult, yet outstanding, script of Prisoners. Let alone the whole story and plot, I would find it hard to describe Prisoners in a one-line pitch. Is it about a father who goes all the way to find his daughter after being mysteriously kidnapped in broad daylight? Is it about a detective in search for an answer to the kidnapping riddle? Or, is it about different characters imprisoned in a labyrinth, struggling to find an exit before everything is too late?
So, one Thanksgiving Day, the little daughters of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) were missing just like that. The only clue they got was there was this creepy recreational vehicle parked near their houses. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) – who never lost a case – quickly captured the young driver of the RV, named Alex Jones (Paul Dano), who had a mind of a 10-year old. Dover was more than certain that Jones kidnapped the little girls, while Loki could not find any evidence. The case, however, brought Loki’s attention to clues that would lead him to a bigger plot. Meanwhile, Dover went far beyond his own borders to find his daughter.
The 153-minute ride brings audience to meet finely carved characters and the twists they bring with them. Director Denis Villeneuve executes Aaron Guzikowski‘s script meticulously. Every scene is captivating. Curiosity is built to a gripping climax on a solid set-up. Broad daylight slowly moves to rainy days, and then snowy evenings. There are moments where we could see how our characters trapped in darkness with just a glimmering light to show little hope for a narrow escape. Cinematography by Roger Deakins paints the suburban tale in natural hues to give such a realistic approach without losing the grim atmosphere.
Prisoners has its weaknesses and flaws, yet the superior directing and storytelling keep the audience thrilled for two-and-a-half hours. It resembles David Fincher‘s Zodiac in many ways. I would not recommend Prisoners as a date movie, but if you’re looking for a crafty feature film, then this one will do more than satisfy.