Movie review – Prisoners: The vigilante in every parent

2013-10-13 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Perhaps the most jarring part of watching Prisoners is learning what you might be capable of if your child were kidnapped.

It may be a particularly uncomfortable realisation, given our country’s thorny issues of vigilante justice.

But if you are a parent, this is what you are first, and always.

In Prisoners, Hugh Jackman is the father who decides to do whatever it takes to get his child back.

It’s one that costs him more than he could have imagined and the audience is swept away with him, eventually beached in a place where justice wears the mask of vigilantism and desperation trumps humanity.

The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, the French-Canadian behind the Oscar-nominated film, Incendies, and he again picks subject matter that slices through ideology to reveal the heart of the issue.

He poses more questions than he can answer – leaving it up to the viewers to arrive at their own conclusions.

Hugh Jackman is Keller Dover and Maria Bello is his wife Grace.

They live in small-town America, but this film could be set anywhere and the children could be yours.

Terrence Howard and Viola Davis play the Dovers’ family friends and neighbours.

On Thanksgiving, the two couples’ little girls, Anna and Joy, go off to find Anna’s red whistle.

It’s an ordinary day until it’s not.

Villeneuve expertly delivers the sucker punch as the parents realise Anna and Joy are missing.

Scriptwriter Aaron Guzikowski says his script only really took root once he had children of his own and he tried to imagine what would happen if they went missing.

“What does that do to a person’s mind? How does it change him? What does it drive him to do that he would never normally do?”

Jake Gyllenhaal gives yet another superb performance as Loki, the police officer in charge of the case. He is cast in the mould of a hero, in every way the kind of cop a parent with a lost child would dream of having on the case. Jackman’s angry, emotional character is the other end of the spectrum.

It is painful to watch, but watch it you will, with morbid fascination, which is why I expect him to again be in the Oscar-nomination line-up.

The film could well be, too.

And I wouldn’t be surprised to find the incredibly versatile Melissa Leo up for a nod again for her turn as the foster mother of the boy (played by Paul Dano) who is the prime suspect.

Prisoners is must-see cinema, even though what you find out about yourself might keep you up at night.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.