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When your child goes missing, how far would you go to find her?

After his six-year-old daughter and her best friend are kidnapped on Thanksgiving, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) butts heads with detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is in charge of the investigation.   Keller feels Loki and his department are not doing enough to find the girls.  Keller’s son mentions an old RV, owned by Alex Jones (Paul Dano) and believes he is the culprit that has taken his daughter.  When there is a lack of evidence to show any signs that Alex may have taken the girls, he is set free.   Losing faith in the law, he captures Alex and holds him captive in a desperate attempt to find out what happened to the girls.  But the further he goes to get the man to confess, the closer he comes to losing his soul.

If you have already seen the trailer for this film, then you should know that it screams Best Picture potential.  But after watching the movie, it’s the performances that prove to be Oscar worthy.  With an all star cast like this one, it’s not shocking that the acting would be exceptional.  At this point for most of these Academy Award nominated actors,  it is about competing with their own past performances.  Hugh Jackman is fresh off his Best Actor nod for Les Miserable.  Though I thought he did an incredible job as Jean Valjean, it’s his performance in Prisoners that has left me more satisfied than ever with the actor.  Jackman takes the audience on a nail biting, dark journey to see how a desperate father handles every parent’s worst nightmare.  It’s the little things that stand out in his performance, from every scowl to every deep breath he makes.  I could go on for a while discussing him, but I think you see my point.

Jake Gyllenhaal raised the bar for himself as an actor.  He plays detective Loki, a cop that has never lost a case.  Loki has his own troubled past which is seen through all his subtle, twitching tendencies.  It been since his 2005 nomination for Brokeback Mountain that we have seen him be in such a strong in a role.  The movie is really seen through both the eyes of Jackman and Gyllenhaal’s characters.  

On one hand we have Loki, who follows the law and chooses to stick with his moral compass when trying to solve this case.  On the other hand, we have Keller who has lost all morality and has taken the law into his own hands.  As the story unfolds, it’s interesting to see which method proves to be most effective.  Come Oscar time, I see a nomination for both of these actors.

Director, Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Enemy), explained how this film is really about the characters; and showing how each of them  handle this disheartening situation differently.  Well Denis, mission accomplished!  Each person affected by this kidnapping portray relatable ways of grieving.  We are shown a non-stop crying mother who can’t get out of bed.  The other mother has gone into shock and hasn’t touched a thing in the kitchen since that Thanksgiving Day.  A father who has no idea what to do, and another father who continues to take any action he can.  Every last detail, whether it’s a clue for the case or a specific characteristic, serves a purpose in this film.

It’s the details in Prisoners that make this film so exciting to watch.  Besides being on the edge of your seat and dying to find out what happened to the little girls, you’re filled with important facts that will eventually all tie together in the end.   Prisoners falls right there with films like Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, a gloomy, exciting mystery with an original, satisfying ending.  I will say that I’m still partial to Gone Baby Gone, but all three films do a great job of leaving you with the thought of “what would I do if I was in that position?”

The film is two hours and twenty minutes, but it never felt like that for me.  You are too engaged in the case and characters to think about time.  This is a very dark film.  But given the topic, I wouldn’t see this movie played out any other way.  These days with movies being predicable from just a trailer, I enjoyed the fact that two hours into this movie I was still thinking “How is this going to end!?”

Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo also star in the film.

Rated R for disturbing, violent content including torture, and language.

Prisoners opens everywhere today!

Prisoners Trailer HD

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