• James Rutherford

'Prisoners': A Darkly Beguiling Abduction Thriller Steeped in Mystification and Vengefulness


Movie poster for the film Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal

"Prisoners" (2013) is an enthralling and darkly beguiling mystery-thriller starring Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, a suburban Pennsylvania family man driven to a state of frenzy and fierce incrimination after the disappearance of his daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and her friend Eliza (Zoë Soul).


Following the girls' baffling disappearance during a Thanksgiving gathering, police detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case—lending shrewd investigative assistance while exploring disparate and perplexing leads that hint at a larger, more sinister conspiracy at play. Undeterred from Loki's broader probe, Dover takes matters into his own hands in the pursuit of the case's lead suspect, the intellectually-disabled Alex Jones (Paul Dano). His brutal abduction and interrogation of Jones lies at the center of this ominous foray into the darker sides of humanity, with Jackman, Dano and Gyllenhaal all delivering utterly phenomenal, world-class performances to the proceedings.


Written by Aaron Guziowski and directed by French-Canadian virtuoso Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival", "Blade Runner 2049"), "Prisoners" bears a captivating and strikingly labyrinthine narrative, delving into increasingly shadowy terrain as it etches out an enigmatic tale of desperation and shocking revelation. At its heart, "Prisoners" operates as an elaborate whodunit detective yarn, yet in the hands of a filmmaker as remarkably talented as Villeneuve, it transcends its familiar trappings to emerge as a profound and utterly exhilarating modern masterpiece.

 

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