D: Denis Villeneuve
Warner Bros/Alcon/Madhouse/8:38 (Broderick Johnson, Kira Davis, Andrew A. Kosovo & Adam Kolbrenner)
W: Aaron Guzikowski
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Joel Cox & Gary D. Roach
Mus: Johann Johannsson
Hugh Jackman (Keller Dover), Jake Gyllenhaal (Det. Loki), Terrence Howard (Franklin Birch), Viola Davis (Nancy Birch), Maria Bello (Grace Dover), Melissa Leo (Holly Jones), Paul Dano (Alex Jones)
Prisoners had the potential to be a great thriller, but unfortunately it wiles away 150+ minutes with red herrings, subplots which go nowhere, cliches, throwaway characters, and ultimately, plagiarism.
On a Thanksgiving Thursday, two young daughters from suburban families go missing without trace, leaving the family members in complete turmoil.
One of the fathers (Hugh Jackman), thinks the best way to find his daughter is through vigilante justice, and kidnaps the man he feels is responsible for the abduction, keeping him prisoner in a dilapidated house while he tortures him for answers.
The other girl's father (Terrence Howard) disagrees with this method, causing a rift between their friendship.
Meanwhile, cop Jake Gyllenhaal is looking for his own answers, leaving no stone unturned in his search for the two missing girls.
Firstly, the performances are fantastic. Hugh Jackman is simply brilliant as the father who feels he has to commit heinous acts in order to save his little girl, while Terrence Howard is also excellent as the yin to Jackman's yang. Jake Gyllenhaal also delivers a good performance as the film's only real neutral character. Unfortunately, Maria Bello and Viola Davis are completely underused as Jackman & Howard's wives, with a script only calling for them to cry and little more.
For the best part of two hours, the movie keeps you guessing who the real perpetrator is, but then comes the conclusion and it's a huge anticlimax which straight up rips off the same plot line from Dutch thriller 'The Vanishing', in which the kidnapper tells his victim that if he wants to see his missing girlfriend again, he must take the same steps she did...
All this build up leads to no great showdown between desperate parent and perverse abductor, it just fizzles out into something rather unconvincing, in which a car chase seems to be thrown in just to tick off another 'cliche box'.
It's by no means a bad film, far from it, but after reading review after review of how fantastic and clever it is, I must disagree that it's nowhere near as good as I was led to believe.
Yes, it's a good thriller, but nothing special. The Vanishing (original, not US remake) presented a similar theme done so much better.