Cast includes: Hugh Jackman (X-Men), Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code), Viola Davis (Doubt), Maria Bello (The History of Violence), Terrence Howard (Crash), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks)
Director: Denis Villeneuve (Incendies)
Genre: Mystery | Drama | Crime | Thriller (153 minutes)
“You know the most important thing your granddad ever told me?” Keller Dover asks his son. Ralph already knows… “Be ready.” And today, Ralph makes Keller proud, getting that deer in one “nice shot.” With the deer strapped to the truck, they head home. There aren’t many cars in the neighborhood… everyone’s getting ready for Thanksgiving. A van goes by, but no one pays any attention. The Dovers don’t have to travel because they’re just going across the street to the Birch’s house. The two little girls… Anna Dover and Joy Birch… are full of energy and want to play outside. The older kids are supposed to keep an eye on them… they stop Anna and Joy from climbing on that van that’s now parked nearby. Yikes! They thought it was empty, but there seems to be someone in it! Anyway, everyone has a nice time, but after dinner the girls are nowhere to be found. They search frantically and finally the older kids remember the van and wonder if the girls went back to it.
In the meantime, Detective Loki is having Thanksgiving dinner by himself at a dumpy Chinese restaurant when the call comes in about the missing girls and the van. In 5 minutes, cops have the van cornered and Alex, the driver, looks very confused. It doesn’t look like the girls are in the van, but Alex tries and fails to run away. The police waste no time asking questions and searching everywhere. Alex gives nothing up in questioning. His aunt says, “That boy’s never been in trouble. Not a day in his life.” Normally, the van’s parked in her back yard, but apparently Alex “went for a drive.” Loki doesn’t really think Alex took the girls. “He’s got the IQ of a 10-year-old.” There are absolutely no clues and no other suspects. Of course, every hour they’re out there, the chances of finding them alive decreases… a fact that Keller forcefully points out… as if Loki didn’t already know it. The others may be willing to let Detective Loki do his job and solve this crime like he always does… “solved every case he’s ever been assigned.” But that’s not good enough for Keller. “Be ready.” That’s always been the code he lives by.
But what does Keller have? There’s Alex, who can’t be held because there’s no evidence that he had anything to do with it. That doesn’t matter because there’s no way that Keller is going to sit back and do nothing. “He stopped being a person when he took our daughter.” (If he took their daughter!) Loki really wants to concentrate on the case, but instead, he has to split his attention between the case and the father, who’s out of control. Prisoners is a suspenseful who-dun-it with a lot of twists and turns. Clues, such as they are, point one way and don’t pan out… then another way and don’t pan out. Detective Loki really does know his stuff, but he has to prevent Keller from doing something that will blow up everything. Prisoners has many good qualities… for example, the acting and the unexpected plot elements. However, after a somewhat slow middle section, the plot developments at the end don’t seem to have quite enough connective tissue. At times we’re left wondering if we missed something. But that said, Prisoners really will definitely keep you guessing.
2 popped kernels
Two little girls kidnapped… one of the fathers is determined to find them, working at cross-purposes with the detective on the case
Rated: R (Language, Violence, Crime)
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Direct to Video
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Solving a kidnapping
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment & Thought Provoking