Morally ambiguous characters are laid bare in this complex mystery; add to that a fervently-taut script, creating a recipe for an intense two and a half-hour thrill ride. To have nerves rattled for such a length takes quite a toll -- it’s exhausting, actually. But when the film comes to a close, those shot nerves are worth every second of “Prisoners.” This is highly satisfying mystery/suspense nearly at its finest.
What would you do if your child went missing and you were absolutely convinced you knew who did it but the police couldn’t prove it? To what lengths beyond the law would you go? Hugh Jackman is Keller Dover and when his daughter and her friend go missing on Thanksgiving afternoon, a seemingly dormant beast is awoken within as he takes matters into his own hands, blurring the lines of justice. As the police follow every lead, Keller sets his sights on Alex Jones (Paul Dano), a mentally-challenged drifter who was spotted in a dilapidated RV near the scene of the crime.
“Prisoners” bounces between Keller’s manic search and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki, the brooding cop assigned to the case, who not only has to contend with fiery emotions from Keller, his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and the Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis), he has to navigate around an ineffectual police department as well as uphold his own perfect record. Like David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” Gyllenhaal is excellent as a stoic yet determined cop, deftly balancing a slight obsession with the burdens of an around-the-clock job.