Prisoners debuted at Telluride in August of 2013. The story gets set into motion, when two girls get abducted with no witnesses in a suburban neighborhood. One of the fathers, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) goes on a manhunt to find the perpetrator and his daughter and her friend. After the police find a suspect they think could be connected with the abduction, they call Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who then interrogates the suspect. The boy’s name is Alex Jones and diminished mentally. Perplexed, Loki decides to follow other leads, tracking sex offenders and and even a local priest who he discovers has murdered children in his campaign to stop the, “War on God.”
Dover catches wind of who the original suspect is, kidnaps him, and tortures him out of anger. The story comes to a head when Loki discovers the torture and must decide how to proceed. Loki is also dealing with a suspect whom he suspects could be the actual abductor. Loki visits this suspect’s house and finds pig blood, crates filled with snakes, maze drawings on the wall, and children’s clothing. Loki finds out that this suspect is not guilty, but he himself was a victim of child abduction and his maze patterns matches another victim killed by the local priest. Come to find out that the priest killings and Alex Jones are connected, but Jones is not behind the abduction plot. His mother, is behind the killings and a religious zealot.
The girls have been drugged and living in Jones’ mother’s house and on the edge of death. One of the girls is able to make her escape and tell Keller where she was being held. When Dover enters the home, he is confronted by Jones’ mother who drugs him and puts him underground and in a maze of sorts.
When Loki visits the home, he finds the remaining girl and races her to the hospital. The ending is special, because it is left ambiguous whether Keller is ever found safe, but we’re left thinking there is a glimmer of hope. Prisoners is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It couples tension with certain themes to make it an excellent thriller. Almost overwhelming at times, Prisoners captures the essence of what it is to feel true terror and also to reckon with what is moral and what is immoral.
Prisoners is streaming on Hulu.
My score: 9.5/10
My hope is that Dune will introduce a new audience to the work of Denis Villeneuve. He is a true master at his craft, and whether be new films or ones from 20 years ago, Denis Villeneuve has a unique perspective and strong intention with each one of his films.