Top 365 Films – #142 – Prisoners (2013)

Top 365 Films - PrisonersDIRECTED BY: Denis Villeneuve

STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Marisa Bello, Dylan Minnette, Zoë Soul, Erin Gerasimovich, Kyla-Drew Simmons, Wayne Duvall, Len Cariou, David Dastmalchian, Jeff Pope and Melissa Leo

BUDGET: $46m

EARNED (Worldwide): $122.1m

AWARDS: None (Oscar Nomination for Best Cinematography)



When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?


The Dover’s and the Birch’s live in your standard neighbourhood. The two families gather for Thanksgiving and their two girls, the Dover’s daughter Anna, and the Birch’s daughter Joy, leave to go to the Dover’s household to get her whistle. When the children don’t come back, the families go looking for them around the place, with the Dover’s son revealing that there was an RV outside one of the houses close to where they live that is now gone. Detective Loki finds the RV with a group of police officers and Alex Jones is in it. Once Alex is released with no evidence to keep him in custody, Keller decides to take matters into his  own hands in finding out where the girls are before it’s too late.


The film does well in balancing the sides of a parent going to great measures in order to find out where his daughter is and another that doubts the methods and risk they are taking and questioning whether it will lead to an answer at all and we also have the detective that tries to remain calm under the pressure of controlling both the case, putting the pieces together and dealing with a hurt and angry figure in Keller looking for answers, fast. There is some excellent performances across the board, in particular in Jackman, Gyllenhaal and Dano. Jackman’s performance may not be to everyone’s taste, as Keller is blinded by his daughter going missing and having only one link, is willing to go to what seems to be any length in order to find her, even with the help friend Franklin Birch (very good performance from Terrence Howard) who begins to question their methods and if Alex even knows anything. Gyllenhaal gives a restrained performance and in my view better than Jackman’s, as he plays the emotionally disconnected Loki, who gradually becomes a slow ticking time bomb as the days pass and especially in the scene where he arrives at Bob Taylor’s (David Dasmalchian) house, that was tense as hell with that conversation between them at the door. Should be noted that Loki’s character trait of the eyes twitching may bug some people and Dano’s makes a memorable impression as the troubled suspect Alex. A tough sitting that questions the morality of how far would you go to find your missing daughter, as well as balancing the view point of the father and the detective. The reveal is somewhat well sighted before it happens if you pay attention.


FAVOURITE SCENE: Detective Loki speeds his way on the streets to get to the hospital whilst being wounded and bloody in really bad weather at night. The cinematography and the intensity of this scene was a highlight for me.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘You know the most important thing your granddad ever taught me? Hmm? Be ready. Hurricane, flood, whatever it ends up being. No more food gets delivered to the grocery store, gas stations dry up. People just turn on each other, and uh, all of a sudden all that stands between you and being dead is you.’ – Keller Dover

DID YOU KNOW?: Hugh Jackman portrays a father whose daughter is kidnapped and missing in this film. He was originally attached to play a similar role in The Lovely Bones (2009), but dropped out. That role was filled by Mark Wahlberg, who at one point was attached to play the lead role in this film.

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