“Where’s my daughter? Where’s my daughter!”
Do we ever really know our neighbors? Do we put too much trust in letting children play among these periodically seen strangers? In Denis Villeneuve’s latest film Jake Gyllenhaal is Detective Loki, a cop who in the eyes of a panicky father just can’t seem to get it together for Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) family’s case: a shocking, unexpected kidnapping that happened on the evening of Thanksgiving.
What starts as a short walk down the street to the Dover’s friend/neighbor’s house the Birches, quickly turns into a intensifying search for both the family’s daughters Joy and Anna. One second the two girls are playing in the house and Anna asks her dad if she and Joy can go outside, but he denies their request unless Anna’s older brother Ralph (Dylan Minnette) agrees to go with them—just like any parent would.
But who can trust two toddlers to simply just obey? As the hours pass and the night winds down, everybody is frantically looking for Joy and Anna after they realize no one has seen them since dinnertime. The brother recalls an RV parked outside the house where the girls were playing, which ends up being the key to unwinding a series of a mysteriously creepy group of suspects and incidents that will literally leave you scared sh*tless!
Detective Loki, who is an untold mystery of his own, remains calm and dedicated—having a track record of solving all 30 crimes he’s ever been assigned (no surprise for someone who eats alone at a Chinese restaurant on Thanksgiving)—doing everything he can to solve this case: including late night visits inspecting some super dark basements and battling a suitcase full of bloody snakes.
After he pulls over the suspected RV at a local gas station, we meet Alex Jones: a quiet—like, he barely speaks—potential kidnapper of the girls. He’s held in custody for 24 hours, but Loki is sure Jones did not abduct Joy and Anna. Meanwhile, Dover’s blood is broiling at the thought of his daughter still missing and he decides to take matters into his own hands, stopping over at Jones’ house to do a little kidnapping of his own. And it gets bloody!
The story then takes an evil turn when the audience asks themselves: in what case is abduction and torture OK? In Dover’s defense, his justification of kidnapping and torturing Jones was only to find out where his daughter is. But when it is revealed who the real abductor is, Dover pays the price at the very end.
Prisoners is 153 minutes of every parent’s worst nightmare with a dedicated cast who makes the film’s density believable and actually scary. Every second of Gyllenhaal as Loki is enjoyable and reminds us just how awesome of an actor he really is. It was also good to see Jackman in an indie film playing such a strong character—but I’m not going to lie and say at first I wasn’t like, “WTF is Hugh doing in this indie crime thriller?!?”—and though it did seem a little long, there is never once a dull moment.
(photos via BitBag)