Thought Hugh Jackman was a badass in “The Wolverine?” Wait until you see him in “Prisoners.”
“Prisoners” asks the question of how far is too far when it comes to your children. Lying? Sure, no problem. How about assault? Kidnapping? Torture? How far would you go to try to rescue your missing child? That’s the dilemma Hugh Jackman faces as Keller Dover, a man whose young daughter Anna is abducted along with her friend Joy. Dover is a real man’s man – a construction worker who takes his son hunting in his free time and keeps his basement stocked with survival necessities. So when the police releases Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the only suspect in the case due to lack of evidence, Dover’s desperation drives him to kidnap Alex to try to force him to reveal the girls’ location. This scenario of a person in despair seeking information from a trapped suspect is similar to Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins from “Silence of the Lambs,” but with a twist. Unlike Hannibal Lecter’s insane genius, the childlike Alex has the IQ of a 10-year-old, making the audience almost sympathetic to his capture and torture, thus further blurring the lines between right and wrong.
Director Denis Villeneuve has explored morally disturbing topics before with his brilliant film “Incendies” and much like that masterpiece, “Prisoners” takes a very methodical approach in telling its story. The film may feel a bit long to some with its two-and-a-half-hour running time but it’s that slow burn that effectively helps deliver all of the powerful emotion and intensity of this film. This is by far Jackman’s most demanding role to date and his raw performance as the distraught father is brutally painful yet mesmerizing. Keller Dover’s intensity and desperation make Wolverine seem like a kitty-cat by comparison. Terrence Howard, Viola Davis and Maria Bello are also genuine as the other parents of the kidnapped children and while Jake Gyllenhaal strangely incorporates a distracting blinking tic to his performance as the lead detective on the case, he is equally as dedicated and passionate as Jackman.
“Prisoners” boldly explores the depths of human emotion and is one of the most effective suspense thrillers of recent years.
“Prisoners,” 153 minutes, is Rated R and opens in theaters today