Prisoners is an infuriating movie that wastes the strong set-up of the raw emotions of families going through the kidnappings of their young daughters in favor of a descent into average thriller territory that continues twists and turns long after you’ve given up caring. Had the film stayed with the themes of emotion and loss and how far one will go for answers when the lives of their children are at stake, rather than force an unnecessary whodunit twist ending involving puzzles, complicated motives, and elaborate reveals, director Denis Villeneuve‘s film would have been much better off.
Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard star as fathers who face the hard reality of their daughters disappearing on lazy weekend afternoon. Although convinced the police have the right man in custody, a mentally-retarded Paul Dano, Keller Dover (Jackman) becomes increasingly agitated when the police release the man from custody.
As every day passes and the discovery of the missing girls becomes less likely Dover takes it on himself to kidnap the man and torture him for answers about the location of the two girls. Jake Gyllenhaal co-stars as the police detective assigned to the case who grows increasingly suspicious of Dover who he (rightfully) believes is hiding something.
The film is probably worth seeing for the performances of Jackman and Gyllenhaal, and Maria Bello and Viola Davis each have stand-out scenes as the mothers of the missing girls, but given how far the story gets off-track from it’s initial premise I can’t quite recommend it. Despite showing Dover getting further out of control the script by Aaron Guzikowski never sells us on Dover being wrong about Dano’s character (which would have been a far more intriguing path to follow than the ending we’re offered).
The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack includes an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film along with a pair of short promotional featurettes on the cast and making of the movie.
[Warner Bros. Home Video, Blu-ray $35.99 / DVD $28.98]