What if love was utterly different from social justice? Denis’s Villeneuve’s tragedy is taking the psychological thriller to a whole new level. Prisoners invites itself on both sides of the investigation by following a father in the hunt of his daughter’s kidnapper. Being immersed in an emotional high-speed pursuit, the spectator is left breathless. And he’s asking for more.
Boston suburbs, a gloomy night and the mysterious disappearance of two little girls, Anna and Joy. Overwhelmed with rage and fear, Keller – one of the two fathers – throws himself into the endless tracking of the man who took away his reason to live. Hugh Jackman is splendid in the role of a tortured and touching brute willing to lose his human values in order to find the real Beast. As for Jake Gyllenhaal playing an ordinary cop, the delightful and intense performance of the actor is anything but a surprise. And still, mind-blowing is the perfect term when it comes to describing this character torn between his convictions and the practical application of a coated paper law.
This leaves us with the most interesting part of the movie: witnessing the downward spiral of these two not-so-opposed men chasing after the truth. Is the end justifying the means if chaos meets madness?
Take the pitch of Taken (the first one, not the next two ridiculous parts), and replace the fights that hold water with a deep-rooted debate on the perception of law when faced an injustice. Of course both movies are incomparable, but this example can serve as a lesson on undervaluation of this genre. A clever, heart-pounding thriller with charismatic and versatile leads.
Villeneuve’s cinematographic power resides in his ability to play with the structure of a story based on the complexity of the characters and the importance of the details. Just the way a police investigation works. Brilliant.
Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve (2013)