Gripping bleak thriller

Prisoners Warner Bros. Rating: 14A 153 minutes

Prisoners isn’t easy to watch at times, but boy, it is a well made film that grabs your attention after a slow start and doesn’t let go. If you see a lot of films you usually know where they are going. Not so this time. It starts out as a routine thriller, but it throws more than one unexpected twist into the mix.

Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello play a married couple that are friends with Viola Davis and Terrence Howard. The two couples are celebrating Thanksgiving together when their young daughters disappear. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a detective on the case and soon helps capture a simple-minded suspect (Paul Dano), who was driving an RV seen near where the girls disappeared. However, there is no evidence to hold him and the police release him.

But Jackman, desperate to find his daughter, thinks he’s guilty, kidnaps him and tortures him. Meanwhile an obsessive Gyllenhaal is closing in on another suspect. That’s about the first half of the movie, and it gets better still.

This intelligent film is under the sure hand of celebrated Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve (Oscar-nominated Incendies). While some scenes are unpleasant, this film doesn’t revel in the unpleasantness like so many films these days. There is excellent acting too, especially from Jackman and Gyllenhaal.

This reviewer is not sure the plot completely holds water, and there’s a certain bleak and depressing atmosphere, but this is a good one.

Rating: five deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.